ASPEN, CO--Two local college students
were found dead in a local hot tub facility near Triangle
Park yesterday morning in what police are calling
an unusual alcohol-related accident.
The bodies of Lisa Ann Allen, 18,
and Susan Burchfield, 20, were examined last night
by the coroner's office and said to have both suffered
sudden complications due to high blood alcohol concentrations.
While investigators are waiting for
official lab reports, Aspen Police Chief Thomas Cahill
speculates that the death of the two Western State
College students was a result of absorbing hot-tub
water that was intentionally mixed with alcohol, which
he says is a popular trend among college-age drinkers.
"We've been seeing this around the country lately,
unfortunately today we are realizing it in our own
town," said Cahill at a press conference this
According to national reports, young
party-goers have discovered that by pouring moderate
amounts of alcohol into their hot tubs and immediately
soaking themselves in the water, they become quickly
Dr. Raoul Grenvick of Aspen General
Hospital confirms that skin absorption of alcohol
through heated water has a more severe effect than
oral consumption of alcoholic beverages. "When
mixed with hot water, ethanol concentrates easily
pass through the skin and are transported directly
into the bloodstream more rapidly than when ingested
through the stomach." Dr. Grenvick also stated
that high temperatures effect the body in ways that
speed up the intoxication process. "My conclusion
is that by soaking in the hot water-alcohol mixture,
these kids absorbed more ethanol than their bodies
could process, which resulted in acute physiological
Preliminary coroner reports show
that Allen and Burchfield both had blood alcohol levels
of slightly higher than 0.5%, though the autopsies
found there was a minimum amount of alcohol inside
their stomachs. While there are no witnesses, Chief
Cahill is inclined to believe that both the girl's
deaths came after lapsing into unconsciousness.
A copy of the police report made
by officers at the scene lists as evidence an empty
750 ml bottle of vodka found beside the tub, along
with two half-full cans of beer.
Neither of the families have been
available for interview, though a press conference
is planned for tomorrow morning at City Hall. In the
meantime, friends of the two students have set up
a memorial on campus to celebrate their lives, and
also warn of the dangers of alcohol-related accidents.
Mandy Powel, a sophomore at Western State, says she
is familiar with the hot-tub method of getting drunk,
but is surprised that it is so dangerous. "A
lot of my friends are into soaking in booze-laced
hot tubs, especially now when it's cold and we are
on winter break."
Ryan Doubleday, who was dating Susan
Burchfield before the accident, offers another perspective
on the death of his girlfriend and her best friend.
"I am saddened by this loss, but I think now
would be a good time to raise alcohol awareness around
campus, to prevent any more tragedies."