A 13-year-old Hillsboro boy became seriously ill from alcohol poisoning Friday after consuming beer and liquor provided by a 21-year-old woman who is facing charges as a result.
At approximately 10:51 p.m., Hillsboro police assistant chief Jessey Hiebert responded to an ambulance page for an unresponsive male with an unknown medical problem at Western Heights in Hillsboro.
From his car on US-56, he beamed a spotlight in the grass west of a pond near R&D Liquor Store.
“I saw one person laying face down on the ground and two others standing around, freaking out,” Hiebert said. “They didn’t seem to be rendering aid.”
As he pulled into the parking lot of the vacant Heartland Foods building, he shined his headlights on the panicking duo.
He said, “They kept screaming, ‘Where’s the ambulance? Why are you here first? Help him! Help him!’”
Hiebert ran to the motionless boy and began first aid.
“He was face down in his own vomit,” Hiebert said. “I put him on his side, swept the vomit out of his mouth and cleared his nose.”
Hiebert monitored the boy for respiration while the frightened pair kept blaring at him. He could feel the boy’s pulse, but said it was about 20 seconds before the boy finally took a long, weak, abnormal breath.
“My focus was the boy,” he said. “The other two were heavily intoxicated to the point of being emotionally irrational.”
Hillsboro ambulance arrived moments later. The youth was taken to HCH where he was stabilized. The ambulance left, but was recalled for a transport to Via Christi St. Francis.
En route, EMT’s reported a change in the 13-year-old’s condition and requested a Newton paramedic rendezvous with the ambulance. The paramedic boarded the ambulance at an interstate exit south of Newton and continued code red on to St. Francis. The boy was treated and eventually released.
Denin Likes, 18, the boy’s older brother, and Denin’s 21-year-old girlfriend, Alice Crawford, were arrested and transported to Marion County Jail.
Denin was charged with consumption of alcohol by a minor.
Crawford was initially booked for furnishing alcohol to a minor. However, Hillsboro police chief Dan Kinning said a charge of aggravated endangering a child was added later because “the boy’s life was put in danger.”
That night, police also alerted Mark and Tammy Ward, the brothers’ grandparents, of the situation.
Police said the brothers live with the Wards. Kinning said officers have had prior dealings with Crawford in the past. However, it was unclear if she resided with Denin.
Upon investigation, Hiebert learned that the 13-year-old had gone to the pond to fish.
Later, his brother and Crawford joined the boy after leaving R&D Liquor with what Kinning described as “quite a quantity of beer and liquor.”
Hiebert said the boy started drinking around the time it got dark. He estimated the drinking that lead to his alcohol poisoning to have taken place in less than two hours.
Kinning noted that there was an empty pint of cinnamon schnapps, a liter bottle of whisky, a third of which had been consumed, and empty beer cans strewn about the grass and floating in the pond.
“After they got the boy flushed out and back home, I talked to him for my report,” Hiebert said. “He obviously he didn’t realize what he’d been drinking.
“Generally, when people binge drink hard liquor at a rapid pace, the body can’t process it, and it immediately shuts down. A lot of times kids just die. They fall on the ground or someone puts them in bed on their back or their stomach and they drown in their own vomit.”
Hiebert said underage drinking is a problem officers deal with in the county, but not one that he sees very often because underage drinkers usually hide when they drink.
“It was just crazy, to binge drink out there in the open like that, in the middle of a field inside the city,” he said, “but it was fortunate for the kid. He might be dead if they had been hiding it.”