A Princeton high school student was reportedly treated for alcohol poisoning Sept. 3, following an incident at a traditional party to kick-off to the school year, known as Tequila Sunrise.
RCMP were not involved in the situation, and Interior Health declined to confirm a patient was admitted, however residents of Princeton are speaking out about the near-tragedy.
One mother of a party goer, who asked to not be identified, said she learned a young man was driven to the hospital after drinking excessively. She was told he was “foaming at the mouth.”
The incident was also confirmed by other sources.
“We are really protective of privacy,” said Karl Hardt, communications officer for Interior Health. Hardt said confirming such an incident could inadvertently lead to identifying a possible patient in a small community.
He said staff at Princeton General Hospital are ready each year for any outcomes of Tequila Sunrise – a teenage gathering typically held on the night before school starts.
“The health centre is aware of the annual event and it’s discussed in advance and we have added staff to come in,” he said.
Hardt likened the hospital’s readiness to the preparations it would make for a large sporting event such as a ball tournament.
Over Labour Day weekend The Spotlight published an on-line editorial about the longstanding Princeton tradition, sparking considerable discussion on social media.
Jameel Aziz, assistant superintendent for the Nicola-Similkameen school district, said that last year several young people who attended the sunrise party walked through the doors on the first day “not ready for school.”
While Aziz said those children were picked up by their parents, people contacted the Spotlight to report the students were simply released and some of them drove home.
One woman told the newspaper her son was driven home by a friend who had been drinking, and she put forward a complaint to school officials.
Princeton Secondary School principal Kevin Leach, when contacted Monday, said he was aware of the party this year but did not know that any student suffered ill effects. He also declined to discuss the first day of school in 2018.
”I really have no comment on what happened last year,” said Leach. “I am focused on the education of the kids in our school.”
Aziz said after his initial conversation with The Spotlight he contacted the local administration and gave instructions that no student attending on the first day “not school ready” was to be allowed to leave except into the custody of a parent.
The party, which was held this year at Martin’s Lake and organized through a Facebook group chat, was moved from Monday night to Tuesday night.
Aziz said numerous absences were recorded Wednesday morning.
The Spotlight editorial, titled Everyone should show up for the first day of school sober, drew criticism from many on social media who defended the practice.
The mother who spoke to The Spotlight anonymously said: “I kind of feel I failed as a parent because I let my kid go..and I’m concerned about the next stupid sunrise party.”
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