15 Shots Killed Shelby Allen
What's perhaps more shocking is that the 17-year-old drank them at a friend's house, while the parents were home. Here, how her mom is fighting to make sure no other child dies this way
The Legal Loophole continued...
Debbie then calmly and methodically recites a list of the specific reasons the Allens filed their civil lawsuit: "The family in question has never been required to tell the truth under oath; the family invited my daughter to their house after midnight when the family had already been drinking; this family provided my daughter with uncontrolled access to a full bar and left her with two other teenagers, knowing they might drink alcohol; a family member saw my daughter become seriously ill to the point where any normal person would have called for emergency medical aid. In my opinion, this family deliberately chose not to call for the medical help that would have saved her life."
Debbie pauses for a moment and then says quietly, "I almost wish this had happened out on the street, because at least there, I think Shelby would have gotten help. A stranger would have at least called 911 for Shelby. A stranger would have tried to contact her parents. 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."
In response to critics who say that Jane was too young to know how to handle such a dire situation, Benito reframes the issue: "We weren't asking her to perform heart surgery or CPR; we were simply asking her to tell an adult. Alyssa, a girl of similar age, showed us how to act in this situation. When she saw Shelby's state, she immediately told an adult - an older sister - who called the father. This started the chain reaction to get Shelby help. This was the proper sequence of events. A girl of a similar age did the right thing."
Early in the texting, the moment when Jane described Shelby as "half snoring shaking" marked a critical turning point in the night's events: The forensic pathologist assigned to the case told Benito she'd probably been convulsing at that point. "Had medical help arrived, Shelby could have survived," says Benito.
In November 2009, Jane was acquitted. The Honorable Daniel Flynn ruled that she had not behaved in a criminally negligent way, and found that it was unclear how the second bottle of vodka had been provided for Shelby to fulfill her "unwavering intent" to down 15 vodka shots that night. Despite the outcome, Benito insists that this proceeding did increase awareness about how dangerous binge drinking and social hosting can be - and will continue to. "If one life is saved because of the awareness this raised, it's worth it," he says.