At seventeen-years-old, Shelby Lyn Allen was doing great. She was a star athlete at her local high school as well as a a student on the honor roll. But when Christmas break rolled around, she made one mistake that ended up being the worst decision of her life.
Shelby, a good girl and loving daughter, asked her mother, Debbie, if she could spend the night at her best friend Alyssa’s house. Debbie immediately agreed. She had known Alyssa for a long time, and she even knew Alyssa’s parents pretty well. She felt sure that Shelby was in safe hands.
Shelby and Alyssa met up that night, and the two went out to get late night snacks at a taco shop. Then, they received a text message from another friend – we will call her “Jane.” Jane was spending the night with her parents and older sisters, and she invited Shelby and Alyssa to come join in on the fun.
She noted that she had been drinking with her family…
Alyssa and Shelby went over to Jane’s house. When they arrived, they hung out, but no drinking was done. Jane’s parents headed to bed around 1:00 AM, and they explicitly warned the girls not to touch the alcohol. They recommended that the girls go to bed at a reasonable hour.
Once the parents were asleep, things began to get out of hand. The three girls started to party. There was an open bar at the house, and they decided to have a little fun.
Shelby stated that she wanted to drink 15 shots of vodka. Keep in mind, Shelby is 107 pounds, and she did not know about the dangers of alcohol poisoning.
“I honestly don’t know why she got that number in her head,” Alyssa told Good Housekeeping. “Maybe she saw someone do it at a party. Shelby was an athlete [she played volleyball and was on the cross-country track team]; she had a competitive spirit. We all told her it was a bad idea, but she was determined to make that her goal.”
By 1:58 AM, fifty-eight minutes after they started drinking, Shelby reached her goal of 15 shots. Her texts to her friends had started to become more and more incoherent, and it was clear the alcohol had taken its toll on Shelby’s body.
Furthermore, she became sick and headed to the bathroom to vomit. When she passed out, Jane propped her up by the toilet and checked in on her every now and then.
After a while, Jane felt something was amiss. She texted a male friend and asked him for help. She knew something wasn’t right…
“She wont sober up at all,” Jane’s texts read. “im freaking out have no ide wat to do,” “shelb is out [boy’s name omitted] I f______ neeed hellp…” and “shelb is just half snoring shaking. I neeed you so dab right now.”
He offered to come over, but he would need to tell his Dad where he was going. Jane then decided to drop the idea, and the boy sent one last text – “Feel better Shelby:)”
The next morning, at 8:00 AM, Jane let her Dad know that Shelby wasn’t feeling well. There wasn’t a hint of panic of danger in the statement, so Jane’s father didn’t feel alarmed that something was wrong.
An hour later, Alyssa woke up, and she noticed her friend’s condition. Shelby was still passed out over the toilet, and her lip had split open after the violent vomiting from the previous night.
911 was immediately called, and the EMTs arrived on the scene to a weak pulse and a lifeless child. At 9:40 AM, Shelby Lyn Allen was pronounced dead.
Her blood alcohol level was 0.33. That is four times the legal limit for adults in California.
After losing a child to SIDS back in 1987, Debbie knew how much the pain hurt and wished it would never happen to her again. However, tragedy struck her again. She recalls a memory of Shelby before she passed away:
“Shortly before I lost Shelby, we watched Steel Magnolias together; Shelby, the daughter, dies in the movie, and I remember thinking as I watched my dear girl next to me, How could I be without her? I told my Shelby, ‘Don’t ever leave this world before I do; I couldn’t take it again.’ We sat there sobbing together, and she said, ‘Mom, don’t worry; I won’t!'”
All Debbie and her family were left with was sloppy text messages and pictures from her daughter’s cell phone.
Debbie went to the police to make sense of the situation. In California, those who drink the alcohol are responsible and those we provide are exempt. In this case, Jane’s parents were not charged for providing the alcohol.
They believed that Jane’s decision to not call 911 when Shelby began to convulse should be considered involuntary manslaughter; however, a judge disagreed with this sentiment.
Because of Shelby’s tragic death, Debbie has vowed to never let another parent suffer the same fate. She has dedicated her life to educating teenagers and parents on the consequences of drinking. She started “Shelby’s Rules,” an alcohol poisoning education foundation.
“My daughter made poor choices that night, but teenagers make poor choices. It’s our responsibility as adults to help them survive those poor choices.” She continues, “Life gives you two choices when you suffer a tragedy: Give up or move on. I have a husband and another child to love and take care of. I must move on, for their sake if not mine,” Debbie says. “But now I also have a mother’s passion to educate teens about the dangers of alcohol poisoning amid this new culture of binge drinking — a danger many know nothing about, and a danger my family learned about in the hardest way imaginable. It’s not a matter of staying strong; it’s a matter of doing what needs to be done, no matter how you are feeling, no matter how sad you are. I believe — and believed almost right away — this is what Shelby would have wanted me to do.”
What did you think? We want to hear your thoughts. Let us know in the comments below!
Please don't forget to SHARE this with your friends and family.