Girl almost died from drinking vodka
A 16-year-old Cromwell girl is lucky to be alive after being left for dead by her friends after drinking a bottle of vodka.
The girl was found "out cold", lying in vomit and suffering from hypothermia at 10pm on Wednesday last week.
Sergeant Simon Paget said an 18-year-old had supplied the girl and some friends with a bottle of vodka, which they had been drinking near the Cromwell Golf Club before wandering towards Erris St.
"This girl has been extremely intoxicated and she has fallen down and her friends have left her."
By chance, Erris St residents Peter and Wanda Green found the girl lying unconscious on the grass verge at the front of their property.
"Most normal people would be tucked up inside in front of the fire at that time of night, but Peter likes to walk the dog around that time. He walked out the gate and saw what he thought was a pile of rubbish. He went over and saw it was a person - she was out cold," Wanda Green said.
Peter went inside and got his wife and a torch and they checked to see if she was breathing, then rang the police, she said.
"It was a terrible thing to see. She had vomited. She was lying in the recovery position. We couldn't see her face - her hair was flopped over. She was non-responsive. She had been carrying her shoes, and her trousers were down a bit.
"It was very cold that night - we never heard any voices. She could have been out there for hours."
St John Ambulance spokesman Ian Henderson said the girl was taken to Dunstan Hospital in a serious condition.
Paget said the girl was suffering from hypothermia and was lucky the Greens found her when they did.
"If she was out there another hour, she would have died . . . it took hospital staff some time to get her temperature up."
The incident illustrated the dangers of supplying alcohol to young people, he said.
"Supplying a bottle of high-alcohol vodka to a 16-year-old is completely unacceptable and this illustrates how disastrous the consequences are."
Police had come across grossly intoxicated youth before, he said.
"It's not something we run into every week. We have noticed an improvement since the legislation came in and of late we have prosecuted four people - male and female - for supplying alcohol to minors.
"It seems to be the 18 to 20 age group supplying to 16-year-olds and getting themselves in trouble. We really want to communicate the message they face prosecution and if they do supply to a minor, there can be pretty severe consequences."
Police anticipated they would make an arrest in the next couple of days, he said.
Cromwell College principal Mason Stretch said the girl was one of his students and they were "shocked" at the incident.
"I have not heard of any other incident in my time here.
"We are relieved that the student has recovered. People made mistakes there. It could have been much worse so we are relieved."
The school had extensive alcohol education within its health programme, he said.
Recently, human development university lecturer Nathan Mikaere-Wallis, from the Brainwave Trust, spoke to students.
The Southland Times