7 Sep 2015

Teen accidentally drank herself to death

2:12 pm on 7 September 2015

A young woman accidentally drank herself to death most likely because she did not realise consuming straight spirits would have a significantly different effect than drinking pre-mixed drinks, a coroner has found.

Wellington Free Ambulance.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Timaru 18-year-old Bayli Elliot arrived late to a party in the South Canterbury town last October and some of those at the party told police she was pressured to drink to catch up.

Those at the party were aged 16 to 20, and some were so drunk that night they had little memory of the events, coroner JP Ryan said in his report.

"One young woman informed police that Bayli started drinking straight from the vodka bottle but nobody noticed this at first.

"When the bottle was taken off her, Bayli was noted to be trying to get up but falling over.

"Some of those at the party reported that some pressure was put on Bayli to drink because she arrived late and had some catching up to do."

Ms Elliot was drinking tequila and Jagermeister as well as the vodka.

She lay down on the floor and went to sleep only about 30 minutes after arriving at the party and friends put her into the recovery position; her snoring reassured them she was simply asleep.

However, when the party host's mother arrived home about 12.30am she noticed Ms Elliot's hand was "quite grey" and tried unsuccessfully to wake her. She could not find a pulse so rolled her over and found her face pale and slightly purple, so phoned for an ambulance.

The woman performed CPR but Ms Elliot could not be revived. She had a blood alcohol level of 315 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood; the legal limit for a driver over the age of 20 is 80 milligrams per 100 millilitres.

The woman told police she left her son at the house with two friends before going out. She had checked with the young women "that their parents had no problem with them drinking, and was told this was the case".

Her son told her two more people were expected, and she went out about 8.30pm.

Ms Elliot's mother, Michelle Parker, told the inquest she had called her daughter upon arriving home about 10pm to find she was out. Ms Elliot told her her mother she was fine and there was a mattress for her to sleep on so she would stay the night.

Ms Parker said her daughter was "a very responsible, straight kid" who did not drink very much, so she was not worried about her.

Coroner Ryan said he accepted Ms Parker's assertion Ms Elliot was most likely not aware drinking straight spirits would have a significantly different effect on her than drinking pre-mixed ones.

He found she died of acute alcohol intoxication "and this was an unintended consequence of her own actions".