TABC investigating alcohol poisoning incident at Rice University-sanctioned party

October 30, 2012 8:33:55 PM PDT
We've learned the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is investigating the party on the Rice University campus that ended with 11 students in the hospital.

The TABC says it began its investigation after seeing news reports of the incident. The agency says its biggest concern is whether the vendor that supplied the alcohol followed all the rules.

The Night of Decadence party may be long over, but the TABC says it's just launching an investigation into the retailer that provided the drinks during Saturday's party at Wiess College on the Rice campus.

"How they controlled the environment, whether these students that were treated for binge drinking, for the alcohol poisoning, where did they obtain the alcohol," said Lt. Tana Travis with the TABC.

Lt. Travis says according to a report received by the TABC, nine out of the 11 students taken by ambulance from the party were under the age of 21.

Students who attended the party told Eyewitness News that as far as they could tell, the underage drinking took place before the public party.

"People will drink before hand, that's where the real problem is. People drink before so there's nothing really the organizers can do about that," Rice University student Bhagwat Kumar said.

Rice University Spokesman B.J. Almond issued on Tuesday a statement, which reads in part:

"At the planned event, safeguards against underage and excessive drinking were in place. But the students who fell ill last weekend apparently consumed alcohol before the planned event."

The key for the TABC isn't what the university did but whether the retailer that catered the party violated any rules.

"If we're able to track the source of the alcohol or track it back to a retailer, it could mean a suspension of the permit, depending on the history of the location," Lt. Travis said.

The party has been part of the Rice University tradition for 40 years.

The TABC says its investigation can last up to six weeks. But because they don't have any evidence yet, it won't release the name of the company that actually supplied the alcohol.


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