In the wake of CSU student Samantha Spady’s death and the 19
alcohol citations issued in connection with parties she attended
the night of her death, students are left to weigh the consequences
of reporting alcohol poisoning.
“If someone is passed out or totally unresponsive (due to
alcohol), that is a huge red flag to call 911,” said Pam McCracken,
director of the Center for Drug and Alcohol Education at CSU.
Recognizing the signs of alcohol poisoning may save someone’s
life, McCracken said. Signs of alcohol poisoning include a faint
pulse, less than eight breaths per minute, and skin that is cold,
clammy or looks blue.
When these things occur, “the body is trying to save itself,”
McCracken said. “The body slows itself down. In order to save
itself, it can kill itself.”
Spady was found dead in a fraternity house on Sept. 5 and
toxicology tests later reported that her blood-alcohol level
was.436. In their final report, the police speculated that Spady
might have been saved had someone called 911.
Beyond calling the police, it is important to get the
intoxicated person on their side and to check their throat for
debris, McCracken said.
“If the person is unconscious, you may want to clear the airway
and administer CPR,” McCracken said.
Common remedies to sober up such as a cold shower, coffee, and
sleep will not work, according to McCracken.
“Time is the only thing that works,” McCracken said. If a person
is conscious, sleep may be permissible, but only if the person is
checked and monitored throughout the night.
Some students may hesitate to call the police regarding alcohol
poisoning because they are afraid of getting an alcohol
“I’m sure in the back of their minds that’s an issue,” said
Yvonne Paez, public information officer for CSU Police Department.
“But as mature individuals we need to access the situation. Is
getting a ticket worth my friend’s life?”
According to Paez, issuing alcohol citations is at the police
officer’s discretion. It is sometimes important to get students who
have alcohol problems into the system by issuing a citation so that
they can get help.
“I had alcohol poisoning and I know first-hand that it’s better
to get a ticket than to die,” said J.D. Stout, a freshman
construction management major.
Paez also said that calls to CSUPD can be made anonymously.
“No one should place their own safety or someone else’s in
jeopardy because they’re afraid to get a ticket,” Paez said.
For more information on the Center
for Drug and Alcohol Education, visit their Web site at
The web-site has information on drug and alcohol programs,
counseling, and how to check your blood-alcohol content by your
sex, weight, and the number of drinks you have consumed.