«Mi hija tomó una mala decisión esa noche, pero así es, los adolescentes suelen tomar malas decisiones».
She was a star athlete at her school and on the honor roll. But when Christmas break came, she wanted to have fun just like every other teenager.
She asked her mother Debbie if she could sleep over at a friend’s house.
Debbie said yes and didn’t give it a second thought. Shelby was very close with her best friend Alyssa, and Debbie trusted the girls would be safe.
The girls met up and went out to get some snacks.
While out, they got a text message from another friend, Jane, inviting them over. Jane had been drinking with her family, but after the girls arrived, Jane’s parents went to bed around one in the morning and told them not to touch the alcohol.
It didn’t take long, and the girls were drinking.
The house had an open bar, and Shelby said she wanted 15 shots of vodka. Alyssa says she doesn’t know why Shelby picked that number of shots. «Maybe she saw someone do it at a party. Shelby was an athlete; she had a competitive spirit. We all told her it was a bad idea, but she was determined to make that her goal.»
In just under an hour, Shelby, who only weighed 107 pounds, had taken 15 shots of vodka.
She became very sick and went to the bathroom to throw up. She passed out, and Jane sat her up near the toilet and checked on her periodically.
Jane eventually texted another friend asking for help.
«She wont sober up at all,»
«im freaking out have no ide wat to do,»
«shelb is out [boy’s name omitted] I f______ neeed hellp…»
«shelb is just half snoring shaking. I neeed you so dab right now.»
The friend said he would come over but needed to let his dad know where he was going. Jane dropped it, and the friend sent one more text saying, «Feel better Shelby:)».
The next morning, Jane told her dad that Shelby wasn’t feeling well.
But there was no urgency in her voice, so her dad didn’t think anything was seriously wrong. At around 9 a.m., Alyssa woke up and Shelby was still passed out over the toilet with her lip split open from hitting the toilet while throwing up. Jane’s dad was called, and he came home then called 911. When asked if Shelby was breathing, he said he wasn’t sure she was alive.
EMT arrived and found Shelby with a weak pulse.
At 9:40 a.m. she was pronounced dead. Her blood alcohol level had been 0.33, which is four times the legal driving limit for adults in California.
Shelby’s mom remembered a time before she passed away.
“Shortly before I lost Shelby, we watched Steel Magnolias together; Shelby, the daughter, dies in the movie, and I remember thinking as I watched my dear girl next to me, How could I be without her? I told my Shelby, ‘Don’t ever leave this world before I do; I couldn’t take it again.’ We sat there sobbing together, and she said, ‘Mom, don’t worry; I won’t!’”
Jane’s parents were not charged because they told the girls not to drink.
Police believed Jane should have been charged with involuntary manslaughter for not calling 911 when Shelby was convulsing, but a judge disagreed. Debbie has made it her mission to warn other parents of the consequences of drinking, and she created a foundation for alcohol poisoning education called Shelby’s Rules.
“My daughter made poor choices that night, but teenagers make poor choices.»
«It’s our responsibility as adults to help them survive those poor choices.” She continues, “Life gives you two choices when you suffer a tragedy: Give up or move on. I have a husband and another child to love and take care of. I must move on, for their sake if not mine,” Debbie says. “But now I also have a mother’s passion to educate teens about the dangers of alcohol poisoning amid this new culture of binge drinking — a danger many know nothing about, and a danger my family learned about in the hardest way imaginable. It’s not a matter of staying strong; it’s a matter of doing what needs to be done, no matter how you are feeling, no matter how sad you are. I believe — and believed almost right away — this is what Shelby would have wanted me to do.”