Blame, Grief Follow Death of Gilroy Teen

Gilroy teen dies Saturday morning from apparent alcohol poisoning.

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    Family and friends are grieving the loss of a 15-year-old girl from Gilroy who died Saturday morning from apparent alcohol poisoning.  She was at a slumber party at the home of former city councilmember.

    Grief counselors will be on hand Monday at the girl's high school.

    "This young lady was well liked and will be missed. I had a chance to speak with her family. My heart and prayer goes out to this family at this time and she will be missed tremendously," Principal Mario Sanchez said.

    Shortly before nine a.m. Saturday, medics responded to a 911 call at a home on Bunting Court in Gilroy. A fifteen-year-old girl, who is the daughter of a Gilroy firefighter, was unresponsive and having trouble breathing.

    Alcohol Poisoning Feared in Teen's Death

    [BAY] Alcohol Poisoning Feared in Teen's Death
    A slumber party ended with a 911 call.

    She was rushed to Saint Louise Regional hospital where she died.

    According to Gilroy Police Sergeant Jim Gillio, it is believed that alcohol poisoning may have contributed to the teen's death.

    Gillio told NBC Bay Area, "So far, what we know about the 15-year-old and her obtaining the alcohol is that they were having a sleepover with two other girls that are friends of hers, and somehow, alcohol was brought into the house."

    "If adults provide drinking in their home to minors then there is consequences but I don't think this plays a role in this at all. I think that we need to concentrate on the fact that we have a family that received three young ladies in their home for a sleepover. I  know that this family is a very responsible family," Mayor Al Pinheiro said.

    Pinheiro said people should not speculate or place blame, instead he said they should focus on helping the two families involved.

    On its website, the Gilroy Dispatch reports the sleepover happened at the home of former Gilroy City Councilman Roland Velasco -- and that one of the girls was Velasco's stepdaughter.

    An estimated 145,000 people under the age of 20 each year in the U.S. end up in emergency rooms after drinking too much alcohol.

    Gillio says cases of alcohol poisoning are rare in Gilroy, and that he couldn't remember a similar case within the last ten years.

    Authorities have not released the girl's name and the coroner has not yet determined her cause of death.