Question of the Week

September 24, 2007

A concerned parent writes:

On a recent Saturday night, my 17-year-old son had some friends over to the house. The friends were kids I was glad to see. At about 11:30 PM my wife and I went to bed. The kids were playing ping-pong and having a good time at that point. At 12:40 AM we received a phone call from my wife's sister.

Her sister said she had just received a phone call from her son and he told her that our son was in our basement and needed help. I went downstairs and found my son flat on his back unresponsive and vomiting repeatedly. He was still breathing. I called 911 and attended to him until paramedics arrived. He was taken to the hospital and was diagnosed with alcohol poisoning.

The Sheriff deputies and us found no alcohol in the house (my wife and I are non-drinkers) and my son did not smell of alcohol. What had happened was that following us going to bed three other individuals we were not aware of had brought a large amount of vodka in through the basement entrance and my son and others engaged in some kind of drinking contest. My son ingested a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time. When his situation turned into a medical emergency his peers stood by and did not help him out of fear of getting in trouble with the school, receiving a suspension from the football team, or being charged by the police.

When Jason's cousin arrived there were two kids with Jason doing nothing to help him. They fled the scene. At that point his cousin made the phone call to his mother to alert us then he fled. When I found Jason he was alone. I am fearful that someone will die because others will not get them the emergency attention they need out of fear of the punitive aspects of the law and school policies regarding alcohol use. Luckily Jason is fine now. He was suspended from the football team for the final two games of the season. He was going to be all-state in football.

We had his school conferences the other day, and he has straight A's except for a C in Spanish. All reports we get are that he is a good kid. The other football players with him that night who drank and left him alone in dire condition continue to be on the team and continue to play. Their parents know who they are. We have no plans on telling the school who they are. I think these policies and laws should have a Good Samaritan provision that allows these kids to call for help for someone who is in a medical emergency from alcohol poisoning without having the fear of punishment or retribution. Besides the bad choice my son made that night I believe these inflexible policies nearly cost my son his life. Thank You.

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