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Updated: Thursday, 01 Nov 2012, 10:42 PM EDT
Published : Thursday, 01 Nov 2012, 10:20 PM EDT
CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) - For the first time, 24-Hour News 8 has insight for every parent about the realities of underage drinking. When 18-year-old Brett Finbloom died just days before leaving for college, the family spoke only to 24-Hour News 8 Anchor Karen Hensel. Now, the side to that night no one has ever seen.
The death of Brett Finbloom prompted many parents to really sit down and talk one-on-one with their own kids.
If there were a party with underage drinking and someone was hurt, would your kids call 911? Kids who were there the frantic final moments of Finbloom’s life spoke about it. We are not naming the kids who talked to protect their futures.
SHE DIALED 911
"It was one of those things when you saw him — it's OK, he was just passed out drunk," said a graduated senior we will call Sarah.
She says those there say Brett had stepped outside to make a phone call and to get some fresh air. They said he'd been outside 30 minutes before they found him passed out on the ground. They carried him inside to the couch.
"I'm holding him and thinking his body was in shock or something. He is not responding," Sarah said.
There was debate. Confusion. What should they do?
"I went and got a cold rag to put on his head,” Sarah recalled. “Some people get really hot when they drink. I thought maybe cool his body down."
Someone tweeted a picture of Brett showing him passed out. At the time it was funny. Eventually they realized something was seriously wrong. Instead of 911, they called his parents.
"My first reaction on whether I should leave a voicemail was — if Brett wakes up and he knows I called his parents, I was like Brett would kill me. Brett would like have my head. So when they didn't pick up I thought well, we’ve got to feel for a pulse,” Sarah said.
There was no answer. So, then the debate began. As the minutes passed they questioned: Do they call 911, and if they do what will happen? They'd grown up together. Graduated. They were going off to college. At least one was already on probation. An arrest for underage drinking could ruin careers and dreams before they ever started.
Off to Ball State as an education major, it ran through Sarah's mind she can't be a teacher and have a record.
"I went and called 911 and that's when people were running out of the house," Sarah said.
She dialed 911, handed the phone to the one who lived there and she too ran.
911 recording: "Hello 911..." -- "We have a friend here and we think he has had too much to drink. We can't wake him up right now and we'd like to get an ambulance out here ASAP...I cannot feel a pulse right now so I'm really freaking out so I'd like someone to come out here immediately. "
The kids at the party scattered, running into a friend from another party down the street. Through Twitter and Instagram he already knew Brett was in trouble. He drove over to get the address to call 911 himself.
"I had to drive home, so I wasn't drinking,” said Sam, a name we are using to protect him. “I had heard he was not doing well. When you hear a kid is blue that struck me instantly he is not getting anything to his brain. Something is wrong."
A picture of Brett passed out was posted on Instagram. When he was not breathing it was pulled down
Word was spreading on Twitter. Brett was drunk. Maybe something is wrong.
KIDS WARNED: NO 911
"People had texted me and told me and other people. I knew it was not good," Sam said.
Even outside the party, out of trouble, listen to what they said. Kids worried.
"It takes a lot of courage because people were saying 'don't call don't call' and people were telling me not to call. But I wasn't even there. I wasn't even there and people were saying don't call,” Sam said.
"What was he drinking?"
Caller: "I think just vodka. Honestly we were not even drinking over here. He came here already really intoxicated. So I'm not sure what he had to drink."
When medics finally arrived, Brett’s heart was stopped. He was rushed to the hospital.
The kids from the party and others — at times nearly 100 kids — gathered at the hospital to hold vigil. To pray. Then they learned their friend Brett did not survive.
As the kids gathered and his parents held each other, a St. Vincent Heart Center spokeswoman spoke to the group.
"The family would like me to emphasize this was absolutely alcohol related,” she said. “It was due to the amount of alcohol in Brett's system. It was not due to a fall or hit to the head."
They were urged to go to college and act as a voice in that community to drink responsibly. None of them were prepared for the next words.
"The family would like for me to announce Brett passed away," the hospital spokeswoman said.
There were immediate gasps and cries from the teenagers. She waited a moment and then said, "We are planning on a funeral Thursday or Friday."
The cries continued and she waited until they were composed. She goes on to tell them Carmel Lutheran Church will be open for them to gather and pray.
Among their tears they prayed, grieved, cried — the reality of underage drinking now hitting hard. Then in a tender moment, Dawn Finbloom told the teenagers, "I'm Brett's mother and I would just like to thank all of you for coming here and your tremendous support."
In those moments of 100 kids crying and grieving, Brett’s mother puts aside her own grief and becomes a mother to every child there. She assures them, "I feel your love and I love you all."
Within hours, a party of celebration and saying goodbye changed their lives.
Because of one night:
Brett will not be a freshman. He will be an organ donor.
Brett will not go to college. He's in a cemetery.
Brett will not come home. Ever.
When asked if on that night if anything could have been done differently, Sarah said, “Honestly, a lot. If I had seen him walk out, I would have followed him. I was already scared to begin with."
Each of Brett’s closest friends say his death has changed their first year at college.
"We are going to be those kids no one is going to want to hang out with because kids will tumble and we'll be like, ‘Hey are you OK? Check their pulse,’ and, ‘Hey are you sure? Maybe you should stop drinking, take it down a little,’" Sarah said of college life.
Sam says, "It is real and you need to know the dangers. Because I don't know how good a job parents do in telling their kids — look this is a like a serious drug."
24-Hour News 8 talked with the kids at the church the day before Brett was buried. We agreed to hold their story until after the police investigation was over.
None of the kids will be charged. Senator Jim Merritt’s new Lifeline law protects the one who calls 911 and the one who assists.
Within just a few hours of leaving home and his parents completely sober at 9:15 p.m., Brett’s BAC was .37.
He turned blue and his heart stopped.
INDIANA LAW COPIED
Brett was just one week from leaving for college in Oklahoma, where they are now creating their own Lifeline law based on Indiana’s. Brett’s birthday is Nov. 8. There is a big Twitter and Facebook campaign on behalf of Brett across the country to inform kids to make good decisions: "Call, Wait, Save a Life."