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Schoolboy dies after drinking vodka

Published: 7:00AM Monday May 10, 2010 Source: ONE News

The family of a King's College student who died after a night out drinking are hoping his death will hammer home the dangers of teenage drinking.

Sixteen-year-old James Webster took a bottle of vodka with him to an 18th birthday party and never woke up afterwards.

Webster was a poster boy for a fit and sports-mad 16-year-old.

"He was full of life, witty, funny, a neat little kid," says Donald Webster, James's uncle.

Now he is a teen drinking statistic.

"We think he died from alcoholic poisoning," says Donald Webster.

James told his father he was staying at a friend's place to study on Saturday night. 

Instead he went to an 18th birthday party at the RSA in Grey Lynn.

"James took it upon himself to take a bottle of vodka to the party. He got the bottle of vodka we think from my mother's house where it had been sitting in the back of the liquor cabinet for maybe 20 years," says Donald Webster.

James's family say they don't in any way hold the party organisers responsible for what happened. They say it was the 16-year-old's decision to go outside and drink with his mates in the car.

Facebook comments upset

A tribute site to James immediately sprung up on Facebook following his death.

But his uncle says what he read on it made him feel ill - friends reminiscing about the star diver as a drinker.

His cousins wrote, "He is now gone because of alcohol. Please don't let memories be of him drunk, he was more, so much more than that."

On the Facebook page, Donald Webster wrote, "Why can a 16-year-old get so intoxicated without one of his mates realising and doing something about it? It is far too late to point fingers, but it is not too late to learn a lesson."

Students at King's College were wearing white today - the school's formal uniform - to mark the death.

School Chaplain Reverend Warner Wilder says he and the principal met with the young man's shattered family last night.

He says they are also keeping a close eye on James's friends and fellow boarders who feel as though they have lost a member of their family.

Wilder says counselling is being made available for the students.

James Webster's funeral will be held at the King's College Chapel.