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Suburban Chicago teen dies after drinking too much

June 18, 1997

ORLAND PARK, Ill. (AP) _ A high school cheerleader who downed a quart of 107-proof liquor on a dare passed out and died after she was dropped off at a friend’s house to sleep it off.

Authorities said 16-year-old Elizabeth Wakulich might have been saved if someone had taken her to a hospital sooner.

Wakulich was out with friends early Monday when she answered a challenge to drink a bottle of schnapps with an alcohol content of more than 53 percent. Hours after she vomited and passed out, friends brought her to the home of a friend, Nichole Gushi.

Authorities were called after the family couldn’t wake her up Monday afternoon.

``I wished I would have heard the girls come in,″ said the friend’s father, Rick Gushi. ``I wish I would have known so I could have called an ambulance and saved that baby’s life.″

Wakulich was pronounced dead with a blood-alcohol level of .38 percent, nearly four times the legal limit for driving in Illinois. The medical examiner estimated her level was closer to .60 shortly after the binge. A level of .40 to .50 can kill.

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