State News

Alcohol Didn't Factor in Beach-House Fire Deaths, DA Says

Posted November 16, 2007

— All but one of the South Carolina college students killed last month in a house fire at Ocean Isle Beach had alcohol in their systems, the North Carolina medical examiner reported Friday.

The local prosecutor said he does not think it played any role in their deaths, however.

Dr. John Butts said six of the seven victims had blood alcohol concentrations ranging from 0.16 to 0.29 when they died. The legal limit for driving in North Carolina is 0.08, and Butts said the alcohol concentrations might have affected the students' coordination.

Brunswick County District Attorney Rex Gore said it was common for students to drink at the beach. Gore said alcohol played no part in the Oct. 28 blaze, noting that one of the students killed had no alcohol.

Cassidy Fae Pendley, 18; Lauren Astrid Kristiana Mahon, 18; Justin Michael Anderson, 19; Travis Lane Cale, 19; Allison Walden, 18; William Rhea, 18; and Emily Lauren Yelton, 18, died in their sleep from smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning, Butts said earlier this month.

All of the victims, except Yelton, attended the University of South Carolina. She went to Clemson University.

Six other USC students were able to escape from the burning house and survived the fire.

Investigators' preliminary investigation found that the fire likely started on the back deck of the house at 1 Scotland St., but because of the extensive damage, it was impossible for investigators to determine an exact cause.

It's possible, however, that the fire could have started from improperly discarded smoking materials, they said. There was no indication the fire was set.


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  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Nov 18, 2007

    "Where does the DA have his head stuffed?"

    Let's see. You have a wealthy father and a DA who's afraid to tell the truth of what happened. When you are drunk with a blood alcohol content two to three times the legal limit, you are not going to be woke up by a smoke detector if a fire starts. Once again we have a wealthy father getting a DA to protect his spoiled brat. Unfortunately the brat is dead this time.

  • richard2 Nov 18, 2007

    Where does the DA have his head stuffed?

  • Doctor McDookie Nov 17, 2007

    WRAL did not report that no other toxicology report was done. Before you judge, stop and think. GHB or some other date rape drug, an over dose on cocaine, or an accidental fight that went led to a death. The ones that survived covered everything up. Someone had to jump out the third story window to make it look good ( add effect by screaming back “jump, jump”). It always happens, but you dont think it will happen in your back yard. I think the rich people calls it NIMBY. Was any of the victims related to the Kennedy's?

  • anonemoose Nov 16, 2007

    Turning 18 teenagers loose in daddy's 2 million dollar beach house in a town that is well known for it's parties and lack of law enforcement presence for a last shot. 3 day weekend is this disaster waiting to happen. But come next spring it will start happening again, probably two houses down, or across the canal, 18 drunken teenagers will raise their beer and liquor to the site where that house used to be and say a salute to those who died and then pass out in their beds with similar BACs, and not give a second thought to if they will wake up if something happens, only who they will wake up with.

  • anonemoose Nov 16, 2007

    Thank you WRAL for reporting this. In this age of "kids will be kids" and "rites of passage" as excuses for a lack of proper upbringing, the negative effects need to be shown. Yes, I did drink when I was underage, but always under the supervision of my older brother, and I was never impaired and never drove. I drank at our race car garage, and was taken home. Later, I would drink one beer after the races and leave at least one hour later driving the tow truck. I was "drunk" only one time prior to going into the military, and I was well supervised then.

  • Amused Nov 16, 2007

    for god's sake! kids at the beach, sure their gonna booze lighten up
    Click to view my profile seeingthru

    Lighten up??? They DIED in vain.

  • Derrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Nov 16, 2007

    Now.......... I know, and I was only trying to explain the BAC thing since you asked.

  • now thats funny stuff Nov 16, 2007

    derrrrrrrrrrrrr they were drunk......that is why they did not wake up!!!!!

  • Derrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Nov 16, 2007

    "Just another sad story of poor teenage judgment, lack of parental supervision, no chaparones, etc, etc, etc"

    They were in college, so I would only list poor teenage judgment. Can't put this one on the parents.

  • Derrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Nov 16, 2007

    I might have messed up the analogy. I know that's the correct analogy for breath alcohol, don't know if it's the same for blood. Either way you see it doesn't take much alcohol and it's a low percentage of what's in your body.