Gilroy girl did not have water in lungs

December 14, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Gilroy police offered more information Monday about the death of a Bay Area high school student during a sleepover with friends.

Police had initially said that alcohol poisoning may have contributed to 15-year-old Sarah Botill's death; now they have identified a medical condition that may be a factor.

Funeral services were held for Botill Monday afternoon, the same day Gilroy police revealed what they say is a clear picture of the events leading up to her death.

One key finding announced Monday -- no parents of those involved supplied any alcohol.

According to detectives events began December 4 at the home of former Gilroy City Councilman Roland Velasco. His 16-year-old stepdaughter was celebrating her birthday with Botill and 18-year-old Kayla Dunigan.

"At about10:45 p.m., the three girls snuck out of this residence and went to a 15-year-old male friend's house, this 15-year-old male is the son of a Gilroy police officer," Gilroy police spokesperson Sgt. Jim Gillio said.

Investigators say Botill took a beer from the fridge and drank some; at 1 a.m. the girls returned to the Velasco home.

"Kayla brought out a 750 milliliter bottle of Kettle One vodka that she had taken from her father's house without his knowledge," Gillio said.

Gillio says the girls drank about 12 ounces of vodka mixed with cider. Botill began vomiting around 4:15 a.m. and over the next several hours. According to investigators, the teenager decided to take a shower to clean up, not to try to sober up and they dispute some reports that she ended up with water in her lungs.

"Sarah did not have water in her lungs; Sarah had pulmonary vascular congestion with mild edema," Gillio said.

Investigators say it is unknown what caused that condition and the autopsy results could take weeks. Whatever happened, the mayor says his tight knit community is in mourning.

"Our staff and the people within City Hall who know the Botills and the Velascos and so on, it gets closer to home," Mayor Al Pinheiro said.

School bus drivers say kids in the community and parents are still in shock.

"We all, sometimes can't control our kids; once you're asleep, there's...we just hope they do the best they can of how we taught them and go from there," driver and parent Yvette Dominguez said.

There will be a candlelight vigil in Botill's honor Wednesday at 5 p.m.


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