SPOKANE — The family of a Washington State University student who died last weekend said Wednesday that Kenneth Hummel died from acute alcohol poisoning.
Hummel, 18, from Lynnwood, was found unconscious Saturday morning at Stephenson Hall on the Pullman campus. Police say they received a call early Saturday from students saying Hummel was unconscious and they were performing CPR. He died later in the day at Pullman Regional Hospital.
The Whitman County coroner's report revealed he had a blood alcohol level of 0.40 when he died.
Hummel's aunt, Lea Ann Easton, told a Seattle news conference Wednesday that her nephew also consumed some high-caffeine energy drinks that the family believes contributed to his death.
When a person drinks too much, they normally fall asleep or throw up, Easton said.
"With these caffeinated drinks, the body doesn't shut down," she said. "You can drink alcohol past the point where the body can handle it."
The family wants to educate young people about the dangers of mixing alcohol and energy drinks, she said.
Meanwhile, Whitman County Coroner Peter J. Martin said a person would have to drink about a fifth of hard liquor to have a blood alcohol level of 0.40. The legal limit in Washington state is 0.08 percent.
WSU officials are responding to the death by forming a task force to study ways to reduce alcohol use and deal with over-consumption and other alcohol issues, spokesman Darin Watkins said.