Two students suspended after one collapses with alcohol poisoning

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Vicksburg High School junior who collapsed at school and was taken by ambulance to River Region Medical Center was suffering from alcohol poisoning after drinking vodka, she said.

Amanda Tanksley, 18, 50 Bennett Road, was released later in the day after losing consciousness during her first class and becoming unresponsive, said her stepfather, Ricky Brown.

Vicksburg Warren School District Superintendent Dr. James Price confirmed the incident without identifying the student, calling it unfortunate and saying the administration is investigating. When the student lost consciousness, the school called her mother, Price said, “and her mother told us to call the ambulance.”

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Brown questioned what he saw as lack of supervision of the students from the time the buses empty until the first bell.

“My daughter could have died — and it could have been anybody’s daughter or son,” he said. “If they can lock us up for not sending our kids to school, what are those security guards doing that our taxes are paying for?”

Brown said he was unable to reach Derrick Reed, principal. Instead, another administrator, Deowarski McDonald, told him the school was not responsible, Brown said. Confusion over the site of the drinking reportedly could have led to the administration’s response.

Brown said today that his daughter and another student were handed nine-day suspensions after a disciplinary hearing this morning.

“I cannot discuss a student discipline issue,” Price said this morning, “but it is being dealt with by the principal. We’re still dealing with it.”

According to the school handbook, Vicksburg High School students who come by bus arrive at 7:10 but are not permitted to go to their first classroom until 7:30 a.m. The student handbook makes possession or use of alcohol or drugs an offense for which a suspension is imposed. Court rulings, however, say student behavior off school property and not at school-sanctioned events is not subject to school discipline.

Monday afternoon, Tanksley said she went to a school parking lot with friends after getting off the bus. One of the friends had a bottle of vodka that she described as being “about as tall as from my thumb to my elbow,” and she drank “about half the bottle” before the first bell rang.

“I don’t know how I got back into the school and to class,” she said. “I remember I put my head down on the table. Then I saw a trash can under the desk and I was throwing up into it. The next thing I knew, I woke up in the hospital with all kinds of tubes in me.”

She said doctors told the family her blood alcohol level was .154, which is about twice the .08 level considered legally intoxicated for drivers over 21 in Mississippi.

“They said if I’d had any more alcohol I would have died,” Tanksley said.

Reed did not return telephone calls, but Price said the administration would follow handbook guidelines after determining what happened.


Contact Pamela Hitchins at