Friends and family are mourning the loss of a 19-year-old Novato man whose family said he died of alcohol poisoning on Dec. 1 on the campus of UC Santa Barbara.
In the obituary, the family said he died accidentally from a mixture of alcohol and a drug suspected to be a painkiller and described the incident as a "foolish" accident.
"We add this as a warning to spread the word of the all-too-real dangers of this kind of risky behavior," the Torchons wrote.
Torchon, known as AJ, was a graduate of Marin School of the Arts. A detective with the Santa Barbara County Coroner's Office said a toxicology report is in the works and results can take up to six weeks. He also said a final report on the death could take up to six months.
Eight days earlier, a 22-year-old woman died in a fall from an apartment balcony near UCSB campus in an incident police believe had ties to alcohol use, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department. A 22-year-old man also fell and was listed in stable condition.
Novato, along with other Marin towns, has been striving to confront a deep and troubling track record of binge-drinking problems among minors. Most recently, a group of six 17-year-olds escaped major injuries when the young driver who admitted to using alcohol and marijuana slammed his SUV into a tree and ditch at the corner of Sutro Avenue and Vineyard Road. There have been several deaths in recent years of young Novato residents in alcohol-related crashes.
The Novato Blue Ribbon Coalition for Youth, Healthy Novato, the Novato Police Department and many other groups have discussed the issue at public workshops and sought effective ways to reduce alcohol consumption among youths.
A memorial page has been set up in AJ's name and includes photos of his Novato friends chalking his initials into the hill behind San Marin High School. Also, a foundation has been established in AJ's name, set up "to educate college students and their families on the deadly consequences of alcohol and drug use as well as to ensure that college students have access to the proper level of counseling, support and guidance," according to the Facebook page.
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