'Four Loko' Found In Vehicle Of Fatal Crash In Texas

Tuesday, November 16th 2010, 5:53 pm
By: News 9

Tiffany Stockton, News9.com

OKLAHOMA CITY -- An alcoholic energy drink that has been banned in four states, including Oklahoma, may have contributed to a deadly crash in Denton, Texas Sunday.

Denton Police Capt. Lenn Carter said 14-year-old Valeria Rodriguez of Arlington, Texas was killed when the 14-year-old driver of the vehicle she was riding in lost control and hit a guard causing the vehicle to flip and eject Rodriguez.

The 14-year-old driver and another 16-year-old passenger received minor injuries.

Carter said police found five cans of "Four Loko" and a 12-pack of beer in the vehicle, and when officers arrived on the scene, the 14-year-old driver "showed classic signs of intoxication" including "slurred speech" and had "difficulty walking."

The 16-year-old admitted to police that they had been drinking the Four Loko drinks and beer while driving around Arlington, according to Carter. The three got bored and decided to head to Oklahoma, but only made it as far as Denton before they crashed, Carter said.

It is not clear how much the three teens drank before the crash. Toxicology test results are pending.

The 14-year-old driver has been charged with intoxicated manslaughter. The 16-year-old is not facing any charges at this time.

Four Loko is a caffeinated alcoholic beverage that contains 12 percent alcohol. Drinking one can of Four Loko, which is 23.5 ounces, is the same as drinking about six cans of beer and contains as much caffeine as a 12 ounce coffee. The drink has been banned in Washington, Michigan, Utah and Oklahoma. Other states have said they are seeking similar action on the drink.

Last year, Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson joined Attorneys General throughout the country in an investigation into Four Loko.  Edmondson has called the beverage unsafe.

On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, D- New York, announced that "the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will rule that caffeine is an unsafe food additive to alcoholic beverages, effectively making products such as Four Loko, Joose, and others like them, prohibited for sale in the United States," according to a press release on Schumer's website.

Schumer also stated the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has plans to notify manufacturers that they are engaging in "potential illegal marketing of unsafe alcoholic drinks."