12 from Roslyn party wind up at hospital
Eleven young women and one young man were seriously sickened by an unknown substance at a party in Roslyn in Eastern Washington Friday night, sending all 12 to the hospital and leaving one hospitalized in serious condition Saturday.
Seattle Times staff reporters
ROSLYN — Eleven young women and one young man were seriously sickened by an unknown substance at a party in Roslyn in Eastern Washington Friday night, sending all 12 to the hospital and leaving one hospitalized in serious condition Saturday.
As many as 50 young people were at the party, in a summer home owned by the family of one of the partygoers, according to Scott Ferguson, chief of the Cle Elum-Roslyn-South Cle Elum Police Department.
Police were alerted that something was wrong when they received a call that a young woman was unconscious in a car in the Safeway parking lot in Cle Elum.
Officers learned the young woman had come from the party, and they went to the house, causing many attendees to scatter, Ferguson said. Those at the party were primarily underage and from Central Washington University.
Inside, officers found several sick or unconscious people. Ferguson said every ambulance available in the area was brought to the house.
One young man was caught in a sex act with a semiconscious young woman who turned out to be his girlfriend, Ferguson said.
"We assume most likely that through the beverages, some drugs were introduced, especially when it was primarily targeted at females," Ferguson said.
Nine of the 12 people taken to the hospital were released soon afterward, and two were released Saturday morning, he said.
One woman taken to the hospital was initially listed in critical condition. She has since regained consciousness and been upgraded to serious condition.
Police have interviewed a number of people who were at the party.
Ferguson said he's been in department for 19 years and this incident is "entirely unprecedented in its scale."
He also said it was odd no one called police or 911.
"This could have resulted in people losing their lives. It's crucial to find out" what happened and who was responsible, he said.
Central Washington University Police Chief Steve Rittereiser said his department is working with Cle Elum-area police and over the next few days plans to interview every student who was at the party. He said his department and the Kittitas sheriff's office were called to the party and drove 27 of the drunk students back to the campus housing."It was quite a ride," he said.
He also said it might be premature to speculate that other drugs were involved, pending toxicology reports. Alcohol poisoning is just as likely a culprit, he said.
"What we will want to know is where the alcohol and drugs — if there were drugs — came from," he said. "I suspect we'll know in the next few days.
Rittereiser said underage drinking is a predominant problem on campus. His department's crime statistics show on-campus arrests for alcohol possession have increased from 406 in 2007 to 541 last year.
Likewise, drug arrests — the substance isn't specified — have gone from 100 to 130. The chief said the primary drug has been marijuana, and its use is on the rise.
The university isn't taking the incident lightly.
In a statement issued Saturday afternoon, campus officials said the school community has been "shaken and saddened by the events in Cle Elum and Roslyn last night."
The school says that every school year students are warned and educated about the dangers of underage drinking, but "despite our best efforts, students sometimes make bad choices." The statement said the administration will identified and hold students accountable through the student conduct code, which prohibits drinking and drug use.
Moreover, "as soon as the university confirms the identities of the students involved, the parents of each student may be contacted and each student will have a student conduct hearing," the release said.
The results will likely range from a mandated intensive drug and alcohol education course, to a referral to a counselor for treatment if necessary, to suspension from school.
The administration said it plans to meet with students in every resident hall Saturday and Sunday to "remind students about university expectations for student conduct, and to provide students information about where they can go for assistance."
Sanjay Bhatt: 206-464-3103 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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