Joplin, Missouri – Drinking is such a social event in almost every culture. Fridays after work, a group of employees will often meet up at a local bar and have a few cocktails to celebrate making it through yet another week without killing each other, their boss, or the one person they can’t stand in the office. College weekends were spent in Fraternity/Sorority Houses drinking with classmates and having a fine time. It was the college influence that introduced drinking games into the homes of thousands of people. Back in my day, “Bob” was sure to get you drunk off your ass in just a thirty minute span of time while watching the “Bob Newhart Show” (every time “Bob” was said, every one would drink) Quarters was another drinking game that was used to entertain AND intoxicate. Even though there is widespread participation of underage individuals playing these games, I don’t ever recall playing with an 11 year-old and certainly not to the point of him dying.
Personally, I have seen one too many cases of under-aged people getting intoxicated to the point of alcohol poisoning, and even responded in a professional capacity to a couple of alcohol poisoning deaths of minors. And believe me, those cases are a bit difficult to shake off and put into perspective, as there is no perspective. But to be an 11 year-old spending time with a trusted uncle, one would think that time might be spent playing video games or watching a movie. One would certainly not imagine that evening being spent playing drinking games.
Dale Phillips and his live-in girlfriend Linda Petrait’s story didn’t quite pan out. Originally they claimed Dale’s 11 year-old nephew, Tyler Fecko got up in the middle of the night when everyone else was sleeping, opened the refrigerator and drank from a bottle of whiskey and returned to bed. I know many eleven year-olds. If it’s not milk or sweet, getting them past the taste of something different is pretty difficult, especially something like whiskey. When they awoke the next morning they found Tyler unconscious and not breathing.
When authorities were called to the scene, resuscitation efforts were not successful and he was pronounced dead. Although toxicology results will take a few weeks, the unofficial determination of death is alcohol poisoning. Dale and Linda gave their account to authorities and were released to return to their home. That is until family members called authorities to report this couple packing their bags in an attempt to split. They didn’t get real far. And as you might imagine, the story they gave previously didn’t exactly reflect the actual events that led to this child’s death.
The complaint filed in court stated the two knowingly “acted in a manner that created a substantial risk to the life and body and health of Tyler Fecko.” Dale Phillips and Linda Petrait have been charged with child endangerment and they’re both being held on $50,000 bail.
I don’t know if it was a case of Dale wanting his nephew to think he was cool or Tyler wanting to be cool. What a complete failure all the way around. It’s never cool to slip a child a drink, a smoke, or a little LSD. I’ve seen it all and unfortunately it will continue until grown-ups realize it’s one of the most un-cool things you can do.
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