General Crime

* Sarah Botill 15-Year-Old Gilroy Teen Who Died At Sleepover Did Not Have Water In Lungs

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Gilroy police this afternoon released additional details on the chain of events leading up to the death of a 15-year-old girl at a sleepover on Dec. 5, but said the exact cause of her death is not yet known.Police held a news conference “to clear up a lot of misinformation” circulating as investigators await the final autopsy report of Sarah Botill, Police Chief Denise Turner said. Gilroy police spokesman Sgt. Jim Gillio said that alcohol is a likely factor in the girl’s death, but news reports that Botill had a large amount of water in her lungs when she died are incorrect.Turner and other law enforcement officers attended a memorial service held for Botill this afternoon. “We have lost a lovely young woman,” she said. Gilroy police have planned a candlelight vigil in memory of Botill Wednesday at 5 p.m. in front of the Gilroy Police Department. Authorities said today that they are awaiting final toxicology reports from the medical examiner’s office, a process that usually takes between four and six weeks. Once that information is available, investigators will turn their final reports over to the district attorney’s office to evaluate whether anyone will face charges for providing alcohol to three girls whose sleepover ended tragically.Botill, the daughter of a Gilroy firefighter, drank a large amount of vodka during a sleepover with two friends, according to police. The sleepover was held at the home of Roland Velasco, a former Gilroy City Council member who now works for Santa Clara County Supervisor Don Gage.Botill spent the night with Velasco’s 16-year-old stepdaughter and another friend, 18-year-old Kayla Dunigan, according to Gillio.The trio was celebrating the 16-year-old friend’s birthday party the night of Dec. 4, eating dinner and birthday cake earlier in the evening. At about 10:45 p.m., the teens snuck out of the Velasco home and went to the home of a 15-year-old male friend, Gillio said. There, police believe Sarah Botill consumed a small amount of beer – about a quarter of a 12-ounce bottle.The boy’s father is a Gilroy police officer. Gillio said the parents did not know the girl was at the house, or that anyone was consuming alcohol. According to Gilroy police, the male friend took the beer from Botill, fearing they would get in trouble.The three girls returned to the Velasco home at about 1 a.m. Saturday. According to Gillio, Dunigan brought out a 750-milliliter bottle of Ketel One vodka she had taken from her father without his knowledge. The girls spent the next two hours drinking vodka and sparkling cider, finishing about half the bottle, he said.Police do not know how much of vodka each girl consumed.Shortly after 4 a.m., Botill told Dunigan that she had thrown up in the bathroom. Botill remained in the bathroom, throwing up repeatedly. Dunigan checked in on her several times while their third friend slept.At 5 a.m., Dunigan went home allegedly because she did not like the sight of people vomiting, Gillio said.The 16-year-old woke up at 7 a.m. to find Botill stillvomiting.
She was talking and coherent, Gillio said, but said she did not feel good. An hour later, Botill’s friend asked her mother for help. The two teens put on bathing suits so Botill’s friend could assist her in cleaning vomit off herself in the shower.”They were not trying to sober up Botill as has been reported by the media,” Gillio said. He later added, “Sarah did not have water in her lungs. “After the shower, Botill was “unresponsive, but breathing fine,” according to Gillio. She was seated in an upright position in the bathtub-shower.At this point, the family alerted Roland Velasco to the situation and he lifted Botill out of the tub, calling 911 at 8:44 a.m. when her breathing became labored. Velasco’s wife called Botill’s mother to the house.When Botill stopped breathing, Velasco used his CPR training to try and resuscitate her until the paramedics arrived, according to police. Sarah was taken to Saint Louise Regional Hospital by ambulance, and pronounced dead at 9:30 a.m.
Preliminary coroner’s reports did find that Botill had a condition known as pulmonary vascular congestion with mild edema. According to the coroner, this condition can be caused by infection, drug or ethanol intoxication, a cardiac event or post-mortem change, Gillio said. Botill’s family said the teen did not have much experience with alcohol, according to Detective Stan Devlin.”My understanding is that she’s not a drinker, she’s never had issues with alcohol,” he said. “Supposedly she sampled her mother’s wine and didn’t like the taste.”Gillio said that the district attorney’s review would focus on who provided alcohol to the minors, but he declined to say who may face charges, or how severe they might be.

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