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Editorial: Underage drinking is always dangerous

The March death of Michael Anyasike of Dawson following an underage drinking party in rural Lac qui Parle County remains a tragic story for all involved.

All in west central Minnesota are sorry for this tragic loss of a son and brother for the Anyasike family and of a friend for the Dawson-Boyd community.

Anyasike attended a March 8 party at an unoccupied farm site in Hantho Township in Lac qui Parle County. The party was attended by an estimated 100 youth - college and high school students.

When law enforcement officers arrived, a number of partygoers, including Anyasike, fled the farm site on foot. Due to the cold temperatures of the night, the officers attempted to encourage those who fled to return to the safe warmth of the house.

Anyasike was later reported missing. His body was found the next day about one mile from the site of the party. He died of hypothermia with alcohol as a contributing factor, according to the medical examiner’s report.

No one intended for this tragic death to happen, but it did.

Erik Patrick Hastad, 19, of Madison, pleaded guilty Monday to a misdemeanor charge of violating the Lac qui Parle County‘s social host ordinance, and a gross misdemeanor of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Four of the six persons charged with underage consumption have pleaded guilty so far and the remaining two are expected to plead guilty as well.

Erik Hastad’s father, Gary Hastad, 59 of Madison, was arraigned in Lac qui Parle District Court Wednesday on the charge of violating the social host ordinance. He has not entered a plea yet. The complaint charges that the father should have known about the party where alcohol was available to underage persons.

The judge intends to schedule sentencing on the same day later on all cases related to this incident.

The lesson for all in west central Minnesota is to remember the dangers of alcohol consumption, especially for those underage. A series of decisions and consequences resulted in this tragedy.

This is spring, the season of proms and graduations in west central Minnesota. It is often a time that youth in the region celebrate with a booze party; sometimes in a house, sometimes in a backyard or sometimes in the middle of a field.

Underage drinking parties are dangerous and can result in tragic consequences.

Think that it cannot happen to you. Think again!