Camp Lejeune officials spread word about life-saving program

ONSLOW COUNTY - In the past six months, state troopers say two Camp Lejeune Marines have been killed in car crashes where alcohol was a factor.

"The loss of one Marine is too many," said Capt. Joshua Smith, the Deputy Director of Public Affairs aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.

In May, troopers say Richard Smith, 23, a Camp Lejeune Marine, died when his truck crashed into a building on Highway 70 in Morehead City. 

Just last month, Michael Kane, 18, also a Camp Lejeune Marine, died when his car ran off of Highway 172 near Sneads Ferry in Onslow County.   Troopers say Kane was ejected from the car.

On Tuesday, Camp Lejeune officials were spreading the word about a program that's been in place for years.

According to Capt. Smith, 'Arrive Alive' is a Marine Corps-wide program that helps Marines get a safe ride home. "Everyone needs to understand there's absolutely no negative repercussions from using this program," said Capt. Smith. "It's simply another tool that we give Marines to allow them to make the right decisions."

Capt. Smith said every Marine and Sailor has a card that they can present to a cab driver.  The driver will bring the Marine to the battalion headquarters where the command officer will pay the cab fee. 

The ride is not free though.  "The Marine is expected, depending on the command, to reimburse those funds within two or three days," said Capt. Smith.

Capt. Smith said Marines can get a ride back to base from any location, "whether they're in New Bern or Wilmington or wherever they may find themselves."

Drinking and driving is not just a problem in the Marine Corps.  Onslow County Troopers say alcohol was a factor in 10 of 16 fatal car crashes this year. 

Officer Vanessa Smith, with the Jacksonville Police Traffic Division, has been on the job for more than five years in Onslow County. "Everybody gets caught up drinking and driving," said Officer Smith.

Officer Smith said the best-case scenario is you lose your license for driving while intoxicated - the worse-case scenario, you lose your life. 

"We're not just talking about alcohol," said Officer Smith.  "We're also talking about
impairment on medications."  Smith says whether it's alcohol or drugs, her best advice is to get a cab if you're in doubt.

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