SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Teens & Alcohol
By Brenda (Zwieg) Benson


April 01, 2008

This is about my nephew -- a good kid from a good family that made a bad decision one night. We are also parents and are involved through Girl Scouts and other oraganizations with kids in our own community. We would like his story to be a learning tool so other teens will think twice before drinking.

This article was printed in the Laramie Boomerang about my Nephew. It is his mission to educate teenagers and their parents so this does not happen again. Nobody ever thinks that excessive drinking can kill you or someone you love -- but read this and help him spread the word :

It was past his 9 p.m. curfew and Mindy Zwieg was getting ready to look for her 15-year-old son, Drew. She didn t know that a 53-year-old man had purchased rum for her son and another underage teen or that in a few minutes her son would be dropped off on her doorstep, unconscious from acute alcohol poisoning (toxicity).

According to the Laramie Police report, Drew and his 13-year-old friend left Drew s home about 6 p.m. on June 10. They traveled a few blocks to Michael B. Regan s home and asked him to buy some alcohol for them. A bottle of Captain Morgan rum was purchased and the boys drank that and asked Regan to purchase a second bottle. The investigation showed Drew had texted a friend that they were on their second bottle.

Drew had become intoxicated and was completely unconscious by 8:48 p.m., according to Laramie Police Sgt. Mark Augustin s report. Augustin wrote in his report that at some point another one of Drew's friends showed up at Regan s house and Regan had ordered the friend to get Drew out of his home. The investigation also showed that Regan had made threats to all of the boys if anyone told where they got the alcohol.

According to the report, the friend was attempting to carry Drew home when some young men picked up the two boys, drove them to Drew s home, helped carry Drew to the steps and then left.

Mindy said she heard the vehicles outside the home shortly after 9:15 p.m.

She and her husband, Glen, went outside and found Drew, unconscious and barely breathing. The 15-year-old friend who had helped carry Drew was not saying anything, having been threatened by Regan to not talk about what happened to Drew, according to police reports. Mindy said she called 911 for help while her husband tried to help Drew.

Police and an ambulance arrived in about six minutes at their West Laramie home, she said. According to the police report, the ambulance and police officers were dispatched at 9:30 p.m.

Augustin's report said, "What is clear is the fact that medical assistance could have been rendered approximately 45 minutes before it was, if not up to an hour before it was." The report also said that at the hospital, he discovered that Drew's blood alcohol level was .29 percent, which is extremely high for a 15-year-old child who weighs 110 or 115 pounds as does Drew Zwieg.

Mindy said Drew "coded" (his heart stopped) three times, once at the house, once in the ambulance and once at Ivinson Memorial Hospital.

He was placed on a respirator in the emergency room, unable to breathe on his own. He opened his eyes just after midnight and slept until 4:30 a.m. on June 11. He was moved up to the Intensive Care Unit and released from the hospital on June 12.

Drew's cousin, Mariah Hall, who is just three months older than he is, kept a diary of the days he was in the hospital and ICU.

In one entry she wrote, "It was really scary seeing him lay in the hospital bed, lifeless and not breathing on his own I think the best part was seeing him with his eyes open, because I knew he would be okay. The other one was when I watched him get the breathing tubes out of him, because he was getting better."

Following his release, he spent the next six months seeing five different doctors in Fort Collins, Colo., Mindy said, including a speech therapist and a therapist who worked on the effects of his short-term memory loss. She said he has had to undergo CT scans and MRIs periodically to make sure his brain injuries are healing. They are not sure if his head injuries stemmed from a June 9 bicycle accident or the alcohol poisoning on June 10.

He was released from all therapy in January. He has one more counseling session this month because he continues to battle bouts of depression.

Drew has told his mom he just wanted to have some fun. Drew said he drank on a few occasions prior to June 10, but nothing to the extent he did that night, never realizing what could happen. Drinking s not all it s cut out to be. It s not worth going out, drinking so much you nearly lose your life. It s just stupid; it s pointless. It follows you everywhere after you do it, too. There for a while, I didn t even want to go out and do anything because kids I didn t even know would come out and tease me, he said.

Although Drew was not yet in high school, he said it has taken little time to realize alcohol is a problem at the high school. Some students go and drink during lunch or on the weekends. He said kids invite him to parties, call him an alcoholic and call him a retard (because of the therapy he was undergoing).
Just like stereotyping me just because I made one poor decision. They just think I'm a bad kid. It s not worth getting teased by everybody at school, he said. It just ruins your life and self-esteem because you constantly deal with people calling you an alcoholic and retard.

The therapy sessions and doctors visits have made Drew s first year at Laramie High School a trying one, along with the teasing. He was unable to participate in basketball last semester but things are on the upswing this semester as he is a member of the Plainsmen soccer team. He continues to be active in 4-H sporting events and is looking forward to fishing this summer and hunting this fall.

As a parent, Mindy said, I want parents to pay more attention. I felt like a crappy parent because I had no idea he was drinking.

The family, including their younger son, 12-year-old Forrest, is slowly getting things back to normal, Mindy said. In a little over six months, Drew is back to the normal kid he was before, and for that, they feel truly blessed.

NOTE: Regan was sentenced on Aug. 9 in Circuit Court to 360 days in the Albany County Detention Center for child endangerment.

He was fined $1,175 and ordered to pay $2,000 in restitution. He has made three requests for a sentence reduction; all have been denied.

Kids forget a lot of times some things are grown up things and/or parents are blinded buy it can't be my kid. Use this instance to help kids in your area, the life you help might be one you save.

Brenda (Zwieg) Benson
Metlakatla, AK

Received March 31, 2008 - Published April 01, 2008


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