Parents who lost son urge underage drinkers to 'make a call,' save a life under Indiana law



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MUNCIE, Indiana — Brett Finbloom would probably be alive today if someone would have just picked up the phone and called for help.

That's what Delaware County Prosecutor Jeff Arnold told a crowd of several hundred at the beginning of this year's Red Ribbon Week Community Breakfast on Tuesday at the Horizon Convention Center.

Presented by the Delaware County Prevention Council, this year's event focused on "Make a Change, Make a Difference."

In this case, it was "make a call."

Carmel High School graduate Finbloom, 18, was just a week away from his first year of college when he drank too much, too fast, and lost consciousness during a party at a friend's house.

His friends, worried about the legal consequences, waited too long to call for help. Finbloom's heart stopped. Later, at the hospital, his brain would cease to show activity.

"He was gone from us," his mother, Dawn, told the crowd, silent and hanging on her every word.

As she stood in the hospital, she couldn't help but wonder how her "smart, smart son could do something so stupid."

Her son, she said, was an intelligent young man who made a bad decision. A bad decision, she added, that could have been followed by a good one that could have saved his life.

"Take care of yourself and take care of your friends," she said.

That means calling 9-1-1 if a friend is in trouble. Make that call to 9-1-1. Then stay there (many under-age drinkers tend to flee the scene) and then cooperate with the authorities, The Star Press reported (http://tspne.ws/1teEzLg ).

It's all part of the Lifeline Law, she said, which grants immunity to those who make the call (as well as those who assist officers or medical personnel) for medical assistance for someone who has consumed alcohol or drugs.

Indiana State Attorney General Greg Zoeller said the law has been on the books since 2012 after efforts by a group of Purdue University students.

But many, he said, are still unaware of the law, which is why Dawn and her husband, Norm, share their story, their son's story, with anyone who will listen.

Norm said that since they have been speaking in front of students, they have heard from 11 people who say that message saved their child's life or the life of a friend.

The Delaware County PRIDE Team, which has been sponsored by DCPC for 18 years, closed the program with a variety of public service announcements, skits, even dance routines about alcohol, bullying, meth and the Lifeline Law.

The team includes 43 student members from eight Delaware County high schools who have pledged to lead a life that is alcohol, tobacco and drug free, according to Pat Hart of DCPC.

Each shared the reasons why.

"I want to be a good example for my friends and family," said Burris Laboratory School student Garrison Rehfus. And Kelby Stallings, a student at Central High School, said she wants her "career to be successful."

This week — Red Ribbon Week — the students will take their message to local elementary and middle schools.


Information from: The Star Press, http://www.thestarpress.com

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