The parents of 17-year-old Shelby Allen, a high school student, are using their daughter’s sudden death to issue a warning to parents.
The teenager had reportedly gotten drunk the night before with her friends, deciding to down 15 shots of vodka. Allen then got alcohol poisoning, and unfortunately by the time her friends noticed, had passed away.
Allen’s parents say that they were very strict with her, and that Shelby and her friends pulled a switch. Shelby told her parents she would be sleeping over her best friend Alyssa’s house. Alyssa’s mother was a police officer that was normally very strict, so they allowed the teen to go. Instead, Shelby and Alyssa went to see another friend who granted them access to their parents liquor cabinet.
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“I honestly don’t know why she got that number in her head,” said Alyssa. “Maybe she saw someone do it at a party. Shelby was an athlete; she had a competitive spirit. We all told her it was a bad idea, but she was determined to make that her goal.”
After one bottle of vodka ran dry, she grabbed another. By 1:58 a.m., she reached her goal of 15 shots. She soon felt unwell, and Alyssa led her to the bathroom. Shelby began throwing up and passed out, propped up against the toilet.
The next morning, Alyssa awoke and ran to check on Shelby. When she entered the bathroom, it was a mess. Good Housekeeping reports that Shelby’s head hung over the toilet bowl and that her face was streaked in blood. Alyssa suspects that Shelby must have slammed her head into the toilet while trying to vomit.
Shelby was rushed to the hospital, but it was too late. She was pronounced dead on arrival.
Shelby’s parents attempted to file criminal charges against Jane’s parents, but were unsuccessful. They then tried again, filing a charge of involuntary manslaughter against Jane. Debbie says she believes Jane’s actions were criminally negligent and that she should have called 911 the moment Shelby began vomiting.
But, according to court documents, Jane was acquitted on all charges, saying that it was Shelby who was intent on drinking 15 shots of vodka.
“The trial court ruled [Jane and her family] did not owe, or did not breach, an independent duty to Shelby,” the verdict reads.
Now, Debbie is using Shelby’s story to educate teens on the dangers of binge drinking.
“Life gives you two choices when you suffer a tragedy: Give up or move on,” Debbie said. “I have a husband and another child to love and take care of. I must move on, for their sake if not mine.
“But now I also have a mother’s passion to educate teens about the dangers of alcohol poisoning amid this new culture of binge drinking — a danger many know nothing about, and a danger my family learned about in the hardest way imaginable,” she adds. “It’s not a matter of staying strong; it’s a matter of doing what needs to be done, no matter how you are feeling, no matter how sad you are. I believe — and believed almost right away — this is what Shelby would have wanted me to do.”