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15-Year-Old Girl Dies After Night of Drinking

Posted in Teens

On December 5th, 2009, 15-year-old Sarah Botill of Gilroy, California, died after drinking with two friends while at the home of a former Gilroy City Council member. Mercury News reported that water had been found in her lungs, but Gilroy police Sgt. Jim Gillio said, “Sarah did not have water in her lungs. Sarah has pulmonary vascular congestion with mild edema…this condition can be caused by infection, drugs or ethanol intoxication, a cardiac event, or post-mortem change."

According to the Oakland Tribune, Gillio said that at this time Sarah’s cause of death is unknown and it is also unknown what caused this condition in her lungs. The coroner’s investigation may take four to six weeks depending on the timing of the toxicology reports.

Gillio said Sarah and 18-year-old Kayla Dunigan had gone to the home of a 16-year-old friend to celebrate the 16-year-old’s birthday. "At 10:45 p.m., the three girls snuck out of this residence and went to a 15-year-old male friend’s house," according to a chronology released by Gilroy police at a news conference. "This 15-year-old male is the son of a Gilroy police officer.

"While at this residence, Botill may have consumed up to one-quarter of a 12-ounce beer. The officer was not aware that the girls were at his residence."

The three teenagers socialized at their male friend’s house for about two hours, Gillio said. They went home about 1 a.m. That was when Dunigan brought out a 750 milliliter bottle of Ketel One vodka "that she had taken from her father’s home without his knowledge," Gillio said. "The three girls mixed vodka and sparkling cider."

Gillio said the girls drank for about two hours, consuming about one-half of the bottle, which "translates to about 12 ounces total," Gillio said. "We do not know how much each girl drank."

According to the chronology, Sarah told Dunigan at 4:15 a.m. that she had vomited in the bathroom. The 16-year-old was asleep. Sarah vomited a few more times and Dunigan checked on her several times.

Dunigan and Sarah agreed that it would be best if Sarah slept in the bathroom just in case she got sick again. Dunigan went home about 5 a.m. because "she indicated to us she didn’t like seeing someone throw up," Gillio said.

The 16-year-old was awakened at 7 a.m. by the sound of Sarah vomiting. "Botill was talking and coherent, but related that she was not feeling well. The 16-year-old continued to talk with and care for Botill," according to the chronology.

About 8 a.m., the 16-year-old asked her mother for help with Sarah.

"The 16-year-old and Sarah decided to put on bathing suits and take a shower so that they could clean up the vomit off of Botill. Botill was able to change herself and put on the bathing suit. The shower lasted for around 20 minutes. They were not trying to sober up Botill as has been reported," Gillio said.

Sarah’s breathing became labored and a call was made to 911 at 8:44 a.m, and she died at a nearby hospital at 9:30 a.m.

More than 1,000 people crowded into South Valley Community Church in Gilroy for Sarah’s memorial. Her father is Gilroy firefighter Mike Botill, and four rows of the church were taken up by firefighters from Gilroy and surrounding communities.

Her mother, Michelle Botill, said Sarah "is and always will be such a source of joy" — always smiling, always trying to make people laugh. "She would always write me notes, little love notes and hug and kiss me," her mother said. "’I love you mama,’ that’s what she would tell me all the time."

Botill said she worried about her daughter, that she was too carefree, but said Sarah told her "’Mom, you can’t always freak out about everything. Everything is going to be fine.’"

Botill said she saw her daughter the evening of Dec. 5 as she was heading out and she asked her a lot of questions and said her daughter did what she always did: "She looked at me with those eyes and melted me. She was definitely becoming a social butterfly."