Close to 5,000 young people under the age of 21 die every year as a result of underage drinking according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The problem of underage drinking is certainly not new and neither are the methods young people use to get their hands on booze. One of their favorites is getting someone older to buy it. But those who try this strategy in Bryan-College Station should know there are probably other eyes watching them.
Over the past few months, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) officer Randy Field has spent hours sitting quietly in the parking lot of Spec's Liquor. He watches, often through binoculars, and waits for someone to break the law. Most of the time, he doesn't have to wait long.
When it comes to adults providing alcohol to minors, Field has seen it all and knows what to look for. On this particular night, he spots a young man exit Spec's with a liquor bottle then hand it off to a passenger in the back seat of a car.
Field's team follows the car down Texas Avenue to Holleman where the car is pulled over. The young men are then separated and questioned.
Field: "I want to make sure you get your story right before we settle on something. What's the story?"
Suspect: "Well they said they'd help out and I said I'd pay for it."
Field: "Any of these guys handle that liquor?"
Suspect: "No sir."
Field: "Nobody has handled it?"
Suspect: "I had it up front with me the entire time."
Field: "Okay here's the story. You got back in the car, you handed the bottle of liquor to the guy in the backseat."
Suspect: "I showed it to him, I showed it to him."
Field: "And he handled it."
Suspect: "Yes sir."
The 21-year old is cited for furnishing alcohol to a minor, the two minors who were with him are ticketed for minors attempting to possess alcohol. By law, not major infractions, but crimes that can alter lives forever. Just ask Dennis Gloyna.
In the early morning hours of November 9, 2003, a 19-year old who had gotten his hands on alcohol slammed into Dennis and Judy Gloyna. Dennis' wife of 28 years didn't make it.
"When that happened, that hurt, that hurt me bad," Gloyna said. "Ever since then, I've been wishing I'd of died that night instead of her." Although he still struggles, Gloyna is slowly moving on, thanks in part to his faith and the love of daughter Amy and granddaughter Alexis.
It's people like Gloyna who fuel the fire in Field to keep watching and waiting in parking lots across Bryan-College Station. "Worst case scenario you've got minors that are drinking themselves to death, drinking and driving, drinking and committing suicide and we've had them fall off the parking garage, you know we've had pedestrian accidents. And all of that is from minors obtaining alcohol illegally."
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