Coalition works to stop underage drinking

Teens in Calcasieu Parish are drinking and they're getting drunk. And  a core group of public officials and concerned citizens are working to stop it before any more blood is shed. Kenneth Shores chokes back tears as he tells a small group gathered at the Lake Charles Civic Center, "Thirteen days before my son's 23rd birthday, he became a statistic. Every major bone in his body was broken."

Shores tells his heartbreaking story with the hope it will stop others from drinking and driving. His son Jonathan was killed five years ago by a drunk driver. "There are a lot of adults who think it's okay to have parties for children and serve alcohol. I'm here to tell you it's wrong. It's wrong. There's no two ways that you can slice it."

As part of his presentation, Shores showed a music video, "How could this happen to me," about a drunk driving accident and the lives it shatters.  You could hear a pin drop at the close of the dramatic video.

At this first town meeting to prevent underage drinking, the group also heard from an 18 year old high school student. Fantacee Brown says parents need to teach by example. "We need programs that allow us to express ourselves and ordinary people who are walking in our shoes to help us with our problems. This starts at home. If you don't want to see your kids waste their lives on alcohol, then practice what you preach."

Judge Guy Bradberry said he wished more parents were there so they could hear the story of a Chicago couple who will do jail time because they hosted a party where underage children drank, drove and died.  "Sarah and Jeffrey Hudsell were brought to court by the district attorney, and prosecuted and found guilty and they are now facing one year in jail."

Members of the Calcasieu Coalition to Build a Healthier Louisiana say this town meeting is just the beginning of what they hope will be a growing movement to stop underage drinking in the community." As the meeting wrapped up the talk shifted to possible solutions-- such as prohibiting those under 21 from getting into bars, since they're not allowed to drink.