Man charged after giving teens near-fatal alcohol

Published 12:02 am Friday, October 15, 2010

An Opp businessman has been charged with assaulting two employees after he allegedly gave them enough vodka to cause a nearly fatal case of alcohol poisoning.

Jeffery J. Bennett, the 40-year-old owner of JB’s Detailing, is charged with two counts of furnishing alcohol to a minor and two counts of second-degree assault following the Oct. 7 incident, said Lt. Lance Price with the Alabama Beverage Control Board.

Price said ABC Agent Robbie Barton received a call from the Opp Police Department concerning two males aged 18 and 19 who had been transported by ambulance from a residence on Carver Court to Mizell Memorial Hospital.

Barton said when he arrived at the emergency room, medical personnel were working feverishly to stabilize the two teens.

“One kid said he couldn’t breathe, and he was so heavily intoxicated that he couldn’t hold his head or his arms up,” Barton said. “I’m not a medic, but things were close to going bad pretty quickly, and they had to work hard to stabilize him. He was nearly comatose.”

Both teens were admitted to the hospital’s intensive care unit.

Barton said interviews conducted the following day painted an alarming picture.

They have since been released from the hospital.

“They worked at JB’s Detailing in Opp,” he said. “The two minors stated they were at the carwash with Bennett when one of them said they had a sore throat and needed to go home and get some medicine.

“They said Bennett told him that the vodka had just as much alcohol as cold medicine and would do the same thing for him,” he said. “That led to a dice drinking game called ‘ ‘Hi-Low.’ Bennett (allegedly) told them it would be fun and funny (to do). Bennett never drank. He poured.”

Barton said things quickly progressed until the two teens were dangerously intoxicated.

“Some how the two made it to a family member’s house, who then called 911,” he said.

Price said Bennett was charged with two counts of assault because, “The game was wrong, and it was a deliberate act that caused physical harm to (the teens).”

“This is a prime example of how dangerous alcohol can be,” he said. “This incident could have very easily have ended in two funerals.”

Bennett was arrested Wednesday and booked into the Covington County Jail under a $120,000 bond.

Price said the two teens will subsequently be charged with minor in consumption as a result of the incident.