"Loss of young people's lives should shock all of us," Susanne Williams said. Williams was in Mankato to talk with 300 people about high risk drinking, a subject she's been studying for several years. The summit/conference comes 4 months after a 21 year old Amanda Jax died from alcohol poisoning after celebrating her 21st birthday.
The conference comes just one day before the attorney for Jax's mother files a wrongful death lawsuit against Sidelines Bar and Grill, the tavern where Jax was last seen drinking shot after shot of alcohol. Authorities say her Blood Alcohol Content was .459, more than 4 times the legal limit to drive.
"The events that led to this (the summit) were certainly a crisis," Mankato City Council President Mike Laven said. "Is it a problem for Mankato? It's a problem for every community. High risk drinking is something that characterizes the Upper Midwest," Williams was quick to point out. Williams began studying high risk drinking on college campuses after two men in Moorhead died after drinking at a home near hers.
300 community leaders, law enforcement officers, high school and college students, and teacher gathered to talk about high risk drinking by young adults in Southern Minnesota.
Most agree, kids are starting to drink at a younger age than in year's past. "We're seeing young people drinking harder alcohol," Williams has noticed, citing several studies.
A half a block away, Sidelines Bar and Grill was empty. "In a 14 month period we suspended their liquor license 3 times (for underage consumption and serving after bar time)," Laven explained. The bar's landlord said the tavern owners were evicted for not keeping up with their rent payments.
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