It was the first night of winter break, and 17-year-old Shelby Allen—like any high school student with a couple of weeks of freedom in front of her—was in a celebratory mood. She begged to borrow her older sister’s silver Volkswagen Beetle, then picked up her best friend, Alyssa. The two girls spent the rest of the evening doing the usual—driving around their rural California town, stopping for tacos.
But around midnight, the evening headed in an atypical direction. Another friend, Kayli, texted an invitation to sleep over, enticing them with the promise of a fully stocked bar. Shelby and Alyssa accepted, and soon the three girls were chugging vodka.
Shelby, a straight-A student and an all-star athlete, didn’t have a lot of experience with alcohol. But that night, she had a goal that no one really understood: to down 15 shots. Before long, she started vomiting. Kayli helped her to the bathroom and placed a towel on the edge of the toilet bowl where she could rest her head.