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U.Va. student becomes fifth alcohol-related fatality in the state in a month

December 2, 1997

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) _ A University of Virginia student fell down the stairs and died, becoming the fifth Virginia college student killed in alcohol-related accidents in a month.

Leslie Anne Baltz, 21, of Reston fell and struck her head Saturday evening, police said. She died at a hospital Sunday.

Her death came days after Attorney General Richard Cullen created a statewide task force to help curb binge drinking among students.

Ms. Baltz, a senior honors student majoring in art history, was found unconscious at the bottom of the stairs by three friends. There was no sign of foul play, said Detective Richard Hudson.

The woman’s blood-alcohol concentration was more than three times the legal limit for driving, Hudson said.

In a public letter Monday, college President John T. Casteen said the woman’s death emphasizes the need to change a culture that often views alcohol abuse as a normal stage of growing up.

``We are more aware ... about the dangers of driving and drinking, but somehow we pay less attention to the dangers of alcohol itself,″ Casteen said.

On Nov. 10, a Virginia Commonwealth University student was in a car that crashed into a concrete bench and a tree. She died, and police said the driver had been drinking.

Two fatal accidents happened on Halloween. A Virginia Tech student fell eight stories from her dormitory window. Another Virginia Tech student who had been drinking died in a car accident that also killed his passenger, a Radford University student, as well as the driver of the other car.

The Virginia fatalities come after increased attention on the issue because of at least two deaths this semester from alcohol overdoses.

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology freshman died three days after a drinking overdose in September, and a student at Louisiana State University died in August after a night of drinking.

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