Alcohol poisoning suspected in Gilroy teen's death

December 6, 2009 5:54:40 PM PST
Friday night was supposed to be an innocent night for three girls having a slumber party in Gilroy, but in the morning, one of the girls was unconscious and investigators think alcohol poisoning may have caused her death.

The case involves some high-profile families. The slumber party took place at the home of former Gilroy City councilman Roland. One piece of legislation he recently worked on has to do with fining adults who knowingly allow minors to drink inside their homes.

People who know Velasco say that was not the case at his house this weekend.

"Very quiet family, definitely," Dwayne Carpenter told ABC7, describing the Velascos.

Neighbors say the Velascos are a quiet family and a very prominent one. Now, police are investigating how a 15-year-old girl may have drank so much during a slumber party at their house that she had alcohol poisoning and died. The victim also comes from a prominent Gilroy family. She is the daughter of a local firefighter.

"It doesn't matter whose child it is," Gilroy Mayor Al Pinheiro said Sunday. "Anybody's child, you feel just saddened for what happened."

Investigators want to know how the victim, Velasco's daughter and another girl at the sleepover got the alcohol. Gilroy has a law that fines adults who knowingly allow underage drinking in their homes. But, those close to Velasco say that was not the case Friday night.

"I know they don't have booze in the house. So, I know that I'm pretty sure it was brought in. I don't know by who," said Don Gage who sits on the Santa Clara County board of supervisors.

Velasco left the city council in 2007 and now works as a policy aide to Santa Clara County Supervisor Don Gage. Velasco told Gage that he and his wife went to bed upstairs at about 11 p.m. and that the girls stayed downstairs.

"When they woke up the next morning, his wife went down to make coffee and the daughter, her daughter, had this girl in the shower," Gage said. "She was vomiting, and well, I guess she collapsed in the shower."

The family tried to perform CPR but it was too late.

"It's not like they were in trouble all the time," Gage told ABC7. "There's been no problems with any of the kids that I'm aware of."

For the parents of the 15-year-old girl who died, this death is even more tragic, if that is possible to imagine. People close to the family say they lost another child to an illness just a few years ago.


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