March 20, 2012 at 8:16 AM ET
Molly Ammon’s room is exactly the same as she left it a year ago for a spring break party at a beach condo near her family’s home. Molly’s mom, Angie Ammon, didn’t think she had to worry. Nineteen-year-old Molly, a star student, had always been the responsible one.
But things went terribly wrong. Friends say Molly drank too much and they put her to bed to sleep it off. She never woke up.
Molly, a University of Florida freshman, died of alcohol poisoning. Her blood alcohol level was 0.4, five times the legal limit: the equivalent, experts say, of 13 drinks quickly consumed.
The news shocked and devastated the Ammons.
“I was really worried about date rape at the party,” Angie told NBC’s Janet Shamlian on TODAY. “That’s the kind of stuff I used to preach on. Never did I think she would drink so much in a short time that it would cost her her life.”
This year, as millions of teens and 20-somethings flood hot spots around the nation to celebrate the annual ritual of spring break, Angie Ammon is warning of the dangers of binge drinking. She hopes that her daughter’s death might at least save the life of someone else’s child.
Angie Ammon has created a Facebook page, “Molly Ammon Spring Break Awareness,” to educate other families about the dark side of the excessive, competitive drinking so common at spring break parties.
“I would love for the message to be just don’t drink,” Angie told Shamlian. “That’s probably not realistic. So then the message has to be: You are your brother’s keeper. Look out, and don’t be afraid to call for help.”
Angie and others battling binge drinking among college students have a tough fight ahead of them. A 2010 government survey showed that 42 percent of full-time college students are binge drinkers.
And many see drinking games and drunken revelries as just part of the fun, where passing out is the expected end to a night of partying. The same government survey found that 90 percent of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 is chugged.
Angie wants kids to realize that facing an angry parent is far less traumatic than losing a friend.
“I may have been really mad if they called me and said, ‘Oh, Molly’s so drunk she’s incoherent,’” Angie said. “But you would so much rather be that mad at your child than face a lifetime without them.”
Linda Carroll is a regular contributor to msnbc.com and TODAY.com. She is co-author of the new book "The Concussion Crisis: Anatomy of a Silent Epidemic”
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