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March 10, 2013

Teen spreads word about alcohol immunity law

Lifeline Law intends to save lives by shielding youths against underage drinking charges

COLUMBUS — It was only a 10-minute drive. But with their 18-year-old son, Brett, apparently clinging to life, the frantic drive to the hospital by Norman Finbloom and his wife, Dawn, felt like an eternity.

It would be one they would never forget.

Brett, just days from starting college at the University of Oklahoma, had passed out from consuming too much alcohol that early August night during a large drinking party with friends near his Carmel home.

Friends at the party waited between 30 and 45 minutes to call for help, not understanding that a new law would have protected them from getting into trouble for underage drinking.

Brett never regained consciousness and died two days later, Aug. 5, while his friends huddled in the lobby of St. Vincent Heart Hospital in Carmel to support him.

The impact of Brett’s death was felt an hour south in Columbus, where his friend and soccer buddy Mitch Tabler lives.

Tabler is a senior at Columbus East High School, where he also played on the Olympians’ soccer team.

“I was more in shock than anything else,” Tabler told The Republic. “Not being able to say goodbye was rough. It took a while to sink in.”

Motivated by his friend’s death, Tabler has organized a free, two-hour presentation — called Get the Word Out — Monday at YES Cinema, 328 Jackson St., Columbus, where the Finblooms will stress how important it is for young people to report medical emergencies brought on by the illegal abuse of alcohol or drugs.

Tabler, who played with Brett on a traveling team associated with the Indianapolis-based Westside United Soccer Club, organized the event as part of his senior project. The event isn’t about lecturing kids about drugs and alcohol, Tabler said. Instead, it’s to persuade them to call for help immediately the next time someone gets carried away at a party.

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