RIC grad writes bill to prevent underage drinking deaths
By John Krinjak
WARREN, R.I. (WLNE) -- It's a tragic scenario that's played out on the National Stage. Penn State fraternity pledge Tim Piazza, found dead after a night of heavy drinking. Prosecutors say his frat brothers waited nearly 12 hours to call for help.
"If they had called, if they had called for medical assistance he might be alive today," said then-Rhode Island College student Derrik Trombley, who has since graduated.
But it's a problem that was on Trombley's mind even before that.
"When I heard the governor's state of the state address in 2016, I saw that she was mentioning the Good Samaritan Overdose Prevention Act, and I thought I wonder if that bill includes alcohol," said Trombley.
Turns out it doesn't, so Trombley wrote a mock bill for his public policy class to expand the law to protect young people who report a medical emergency tied to underage drinking.
"They drink, they go partying, someone falls down and injures themselves, and they question whether they should call the police or not. They shouldn't be questioning. They should be calling for medical assistance for that person," said Trombley.
The idea caught the attention of State Senator Walter Felag, who Trombley just so happened to be interning for.
"In the state of Rhode Island that has 9 different colleges, 60 percent of the students had tried alcohol and another 40 percent had binge drank the previous month, so it is an issue and it is something that I believe needs to be addressed," said Felag.
"I just think that this bill would help to prevent people from ending up dead," said Trombley.
The measure passed the State Senate last year, and then fell short in the House.
New York and Georgia already have laws on the books to protect people who report medical emergencies tied to underage drinking.
Senator Felag stresses the bill here is specifically aimed at college-aged people--and would not protect parents who host parties where teens are drinking.