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MEEKER I After a party upriver Aug. 1, a 15-year-old Meeker girl was taken to the hospital the following day with alcohol poisoning, and two Meeker men were later arrested in connection with the incident and charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a Class 4 felony.
The two men — John Wix Sr., 51, and Drew Riegel, 21 — were booked Friday. Wix bonded out the same day, while Riegel remains in the Rio Blanco County Detention Center.
Wix was arrested and charged “because he facilitated the party (at his cabin) and told the juveniles he was OK with them drinking at his place,” said Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Deputy Jonathan Mazzella.
Riegel was arrested and charged because he “bought the alcohol for the party and supplied it to the minors,” Mazzella said.
Wix was also charged with misdemeanor child abuse and reckless endangerment. In addition, Riegel was charged with misdemeanor child abuse, buying alcohol for minors, reckless endangerment and false reporting. Both men will have their first court appearance Friday.
Deputy District Attorney Jay Barasch said even though Wix is a high-profile member of the community, he will be treated like anyone else charged with a crime.
“Let me emphasize, Mr. Wix has not been found guilty,” Barasch said. “But nobody is above the law in this county. I don’t look at the defendant’s name when I decide what charges to bring and how to prosecute a case.”
The attorney for Wix, David Beller, with a firm in Denver, said, “John Wix is grateful and thankful no one was more seriously hurt in the activities that took place in his cabin. Unfortunately, the Sheriffs’ Department has rushed to judgment looking for an adult to blame and he has fallen into their crosshairs. John was neither present for the party that took place, nor did he supply alcohol to anyone underage. It is unfortunate that this upstanding member of the community now fights for his good reputation because of this overzealous persecution. John looks forward to having this issue put behind him and his family as soon as possible and wishes this young woman a speedy recovery.”
The incident could have had tragic results. The 15-year-old girl “had lethal limits of alcohol in her blood and could’ve died,” Deputy Mazzella said. “She told me she chugged a half a bottle of vodka and that’s when she lost consciousness and didn’t wake up until she was in the hospital. When everybody woke up the next morning (at the cabin), some of the people believed she was dead.”
The parents of the girl called Aug. 2 to report they suspected she had snuck out of the house during the night and, through word of mouth, they heard she had attended a party at a cabin upriver.
“I went up to see if she was there, when I came across another vehicle that flagged me down at mile marker 13 on County Road 8,” Mazzella said. “They were coming from the cabin. They said they woke up that morning and they tried to wake up (the 15-year-old girl) and she wasn’t waking up. They said they were taking her to the hospital.”
The 15-year-old girl was a passenger in the car, along with two other juveniles, one male and one female, when Mazzella came into contact with them.
“She was barely conscious,” Mazzella said of the girl. “She was just mumbling. She was incoherent and was foaming at the mouth. Just looking at her, I immediately contacted EMS.”
Emergency Medical Services responded and transported the girl to Pioneers Medical Center. When tested at the hospital, the girl had a blood-alcohol level of 0.338.
“And that was at the time of the blood draw, which was 10 hours after she stopped drinking,” Mazzella said. “The legal limit for adults is 0.08. Fatal limits have been known to be about 0.40.”
The 15-year-old girl was issued an MIP (minor in possession).
Later that afternoon, the girl was released to her parents.