TERRE HAUTE —
The new Indiana Lifeline Law — spearheaded by college students from several Indiana campuses — is aimed at preventing alcohol-related deaths among minors.
Yet awareness of the new law is lacking across state university campuses. In an effort to spread the word, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and state Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, made a stopover Monday at Indiana State University.
“More than two dozen Hoosier students under the age of 21 have lost their lives to alcohol poisoning since 2004,” Merritt said at Hulman Memorial Student Union.
“Unfortunately, the fact is, many of these deaths could have been prevented if bystanders or actual friends sought medical attention immediately for the victims.
“Indiana’s Lifeline Law encourages students to do just that — make the call to save a life,” Merritt said.
Indiana’s Lifeline Law, effective as of July 1, protects underage people, who seek to help others in need of alcohol-related medical attention, from being prosecuted for alcohol offenses such as possession of alcohol by a minor or public intoxication.
Merritt, a main sponsor of the law, said students from campuses such as Indiana University, Purdue University, DePauw and University of Southern Indiana pushed the issue to be part of Indiana law. Indiana University had an agreement with Bloomington police, Merritt said, that was similar to the new state law.
“Underage drinking is an issue that we need to continue to work on,” Merritt said. However, if “there is a party or social gathering and there is an individual who is overserved, so much so that their individual health is in a dire situation, those that cooperate, not just the caller, but those who cooperate and stay with the ill patient and talk with the police officer and make sure that person gets the care that he or she needs, they are granted immunity,” Merritt said.
Zoeller said the law allows for a defense, however it is an “affirmative defense,” meaning the person calling 911 or helping emergency personnel has to show they called or helped an intoxicated person.
“It is like an alibi defense. You show you have an alibi and here you show you called 911 or helped the person. The 911 recordings made will help in that,” Zoeller said.
However, since the law went into effect, Brett R. Finbloom, 18, a graduate of Carmel High School, died Aug. 5 of alcohol poisoning, Merritt said, after a pre-college party with friends.
“We believe, it is not fact, we believe that the kids [at the party] did not know the Lifeline Law existed,” Merritt said. “They did not call 911 for 30 to 45 minutes and since the kids were playing dumb, if you will, they didn’t feel like they could say that Brett Finbloom was drinking a half bottle of vodka, so the physicians couldn’t save him because they didn’t know what he had been drinking,” Merritt said.
“What is happening is kids panic and don’t really know which way is up. We don’t want them to panic. Just because someone made a mistake, they should not pay for it with their life,” Merritt said.
Merritt added the law is not an excuse for excessive drinking.
“We do not want to give incentives for drinking to excess, to binge drinking. That is a problem on our college campuses today,” Merritt said. “We do not want to say you can binge drink and not get into trouble. There will be a situation for that.”
Zoeller said prosecutors under the state law are sensitive that medical help may be needed for alcohol or even a mixture of alcohol and drugs. “When you see your friend in trouble, call for help,” he said.
Zoeller said it will take students and student leadership on campuses such as Indiana State University “to talk to their friends and neighbors and spread the word … to look out after each other and use the Indiana Lifeline Law when necessary.”
Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at (812) 231-4204 or howard.
AG Zoeller, Sen. Merritt tout alcohol-related death prevention effort at ISU
TERRE HAUTE —
- Local & Bistate
Vigo County Jail Log: May 24, 2013
The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Thursday and Friday, based on jail records.
Vigo County Jail Log: May 23, 2013
The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Wednesday and Thursday, based on jail records.
Relic from another age: Massive find
A mastodon that lived in the Wabash Valley thousands of years ago is making big news today.
Game Over: Financial tightening causes VCSC to drop St. Patrick’s from athletic schedule
St. Patrick’s School athletic teams will not have an opportunity to compete against their Vigo County School Corp. middle school counterparts next year.
Katelyn Newell finally at home
After nearly five months, 8-year-old Katelyn Newell finally returned home Thursday evening — with a new heart.
Indiana State U. Police officer honored with Artz Award
Thursday was a special day for Indiana State University Police Officer Christopher Heleine in multiple ways.
City Council considering three for consultant
Three different tax professionals vied Thursday for a chance to become a “financial consultant” to the Terre Haute City Council.
Clay County sheriff warns of bank card scam
The Clay County Sheriff’s Department has received information regarding a scam targeting residents, according to a news release from the sheriff’s department.
State Police seek help with Sullivan County homicide
Indiana State Police detectives from the Putnamville Post are seeking help from the public with the nearly six-month investigation into the death of 85-year-old Lowell R. Badger, a rural Sullivan County farmer.
Man who attacked Vigo deputy arrested
A Terre Haute man accused of attacking a Vigo County sheriff’s deputy earlier this week is facing felony charges in the Vigo County jail.
INDOT to bid final 641 phase
The final construction phase of the 641 bypass is scheduled to let for bids on Dec. 11, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation.
District office moves north
The Southwest District office of the Purdue Extension service has been moved north from Vincennes to Terre Haute.
Day is done…
The sun sets Thursday evening as seen from south of Terre Haute.
Morning update: I-5 bridge collapse caused by truck hitting span
The Washington State Patrol chief says the Interstate 5 bridge collapse into the Skagit (SKA'-jiht) River at Mount Vernon was caused by an oversize truck.
UPDATE: I-70 lanes in Putnam County now open
The west-bound lanes of Interstate 70 re-opened Thursday evening after being temporarily closed due to a crash near the Greencastle/Cloverdale exit.
22-hospital St. Vincent Health cutting jobs
INDIANAPOLIS — One of Indiana’s largest health systems says it’s cutting an undisclosed number of jobs by June 30 because of increasing economic and competitive pressure on the health care industry.
Update: Cleanup from overturned truck in Greene County continues
Fuel spillage from the dump truck hauling gravel that overturned this morning in Greene County at Indiana 54 and County Road 725 East near Ridgeport continues to restrict traffic to one lane.
17-pound bone found during Vigo flood cleanup
TERRE HAUTE — Crews cleaning up from Wabash River flooding in Vigo County came across a 17-pound bone that they believe might have come from an ancient mastodon.
Duke Energy gives $10K to Wabash Valley Red Cross for Vigo flood relief
Duke Energy is giving $10,000 to the Wabash Valley Red Cross chapter for flood relief from this spring’s heavy rains.
I-70 Frye Road overpass contract awarded; construction to begin May 28
The Indiana Department of Transportation has announced the Interstate-70 Frye Road overpass contract was awarded to Halverson Construction Co. Inc. from Springfield, Ill., for $317,166.
Banks of the Wabash Festival is more than just yearly entertainment
Pioneers think counterintuitively. Where others see widespread apathy, they focus on the possibility for progress. In a way, the 2013 Year of the River celebration began in the 1970s.
Planning session aims to better Terre Haute
It’s not yet clear what will come of it, but dozens of community leaders spent the whole day Wednesday trying to develop a plan – or collection of plans – to make Terre Haute “a better community.”
Education funding boost won’t benefit all schools
In the budget bill passed by the General Assembly last month, there is more money allocated for K-12 education over the next two years, but that doesn’t mean every school will get more dollars.
- Day of Action job options open
Park Board renames land around Memorial Stadium
Land surrounding Indiana State University’s Memorial Stadium on Terre Haute’s east side has been designated as Veterans Memorial Park, following a unanimous vote Wednesday from the Terre Haute Park Board.
Deputy suffers minor injury during incident
A Vigo County Sheriff’s deputy received a minor injury to his hand Tuesday night while subduing a drunken driving suspect who fled behind a North Terre Haute business.
Man accused of child neglect gets new trial date
An Oct. 15 trial date has been set for a Terre Haute man arrested in November for child neglect after he and his wife allegedly tied up and confined their adopted children in the family home.
Police find meth labs, arrest Pierson Township man
Police uncovered two active methamphetamine labs in southeastern Vigo County on Monday, leading to the arrest of a Pierson Township man.
New date set for attempted murder trial
A new trial date has been set for a Terre Haute woman charged with attempted murder.
Illinois Senate approves sex education bill
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A proposal that revamps sex education in Illinois public schools to include information about contraception and sexually transmitted diseases has cleared the state Senate.
- More Local & Bistate Headlines
- Vigo County Jail Log: May 24, 2013