10-year-old nearly dies from alcohol poisoning; mother questions if health systems did enough to help


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – You probably know you need to talk to your kids about drugs and alcohol. But you may need to warn them about the dangers at an even younger age than you think.

A 10-year-old Sioux Falls boy nearly died from alcohol intoxication this summer. He says he drank after some older kids pressured him into it.

We also were granted access to his medical records because his mother is calling into question the response by Sioux Falls’ health systems to help her son.

Jaeden Bruguier recently turned 11-years -old and started 6th grade, but he’s still very much a kid.  He loves lizards and wants to be a vet when he grows up. History is his favorite subject in school.

“History about war; the Korean War is my favorite. The Forgotten War; that’s what they called it because most people don’t know about it. It was kind of crazy and World War II was kind of crazy too,” Jaeden said.

Jaeden recently had a crazy experience no one would expect, least of all this mom.

“I was panicked. I had no idea what was going on with my son,” Cassandra Bruguier said.

Jaeden and Cassandra Bruguier

On July 26, Cassandra let Jaeden go the park with his cousins ranging in age from 8 to 15. When they returned, she went to pick up pizza for the kids, leaving the older cousins in charge. When she got back with the food, Jaeden was no longer playing outside.

“When I walked in and he was asleep with a blanket over his head, and he had asked for pizza and didn’t want some all of a sudden. That set off an alarm bell,” Cassandra said.

She tried to get him up.

“When I pulled a blanket off his head, I smelled a stench. And when I smelt that stench, I was like, ‘What is that?’ The cousins initially said it was rubbing alcohol and I was like, ‘No; that is not rubbing alcohol,'” Cassandra said.

She got Jaeden to stand up and go outside with her.

“I started asking him questions and he didn’t want to answer them. He was being very evasive, saying, ‘Well, we found it at the park.’ It went from, ‘We found it at the park,’ to, ‘My cousin got it from somebody walking through the park,'” Cassandra said.

“I kind of wanted to say something, but I knew they would get angry with me. Knowing the fact that they wouldn’t want me to tell and they would get angry at me, kept me from telling my mom,” Jaeden said.

Jaeden wasn’t able to speak for long.

“In ten minutes that alcohol set in so fast that he just dropped to the ground with a thud,” Cassandra said.

She called 911.

“I was in this horrible nightmare that I couldn’t even imagine,” Cassandra said.

Hospital records show when he was brought in to the ER, Jaeden was “thrashing on the gurney, groaning and gaggling and mumbling “help me;” “I can’t breathe;” and “I love you.”

“Whenever he was saying that, I was so scared because I didn’t know if I was going to have my son at the end of the night,” Cassandra said.

Hospital records show that Jaeden had a blood alcohol level of .214, nearly three times the legal limit for an adult to drive. Jaeden is only 60 pounds.

“And when I seen them put him on the breathalyzer, and they intubated him; that was the moment that scared me the most. That let me know what he did to his little body was so much damage.” Cassandra said.

Jaeden Bruguier in the hospital; photo submitted.

Jaeden was in critical condition for an hour due to acute alcoholic intoxication and delirium.

Jaeden doesn’t remember much about being in the hospital, but he does remember being offered the alcohol by his older cousins.

Kennecke: What made you say yes do you think?
Jaeden: Me not looking like a fool to them.

Jaeden explained that his older cousins mixed cans of beer with Gatorade and told him to chug it.

“They had three half-drunken Gatorade bottles. And then they put two of the cans in the water bottle and half the Gatorade in there and then they mixed it up, like shaking it almost. They were drinking too. It wasn’t just me. It was my cousins too,” Jaeden said.

Police were notified and Jaeden was treated and released from the hospital. But no one got in trouble for providing him with the booze. .

Kennecke: Did anybody get charged or arrested for contributing to a minor?
Cassandra: No, there are no charges; no arrests.

Jaeden ended up making two more trips to the hospital. One for shortness of breath and then a few days later for behavior problems when his mother made him do chores as a punishment for drinking. Instead, he banged his head into the ground. His mother thinks it was lasting effects from the alcohol.

“I believe he should have been kept longer until he was in a more sober state. I believe he should have had inpatient counseling immediately,” Cassandra said.

According to Jaeden’s records at Sanford Health, a behavioral health specialist evaluated Jaeden and “agrees that this patient is not safe for discharge.”

Avera Behavioral Health was contacted in regard to admission to the behavioral health unit.  But records show that “Avera will not admit this patient at this time.”

The Sanford doctor writes, “I do not believe the patient is appropriate for discharge and could be a danger to himself or others.” Jaeden was admitted to the Children’s Hospital overnight, but was discharged the next day.

Sanford did arrange an appointment with a counselor from Southeastern Behavioral Health to follow up a few days later.

Cassandra doesn’t think that’s enough.

Cassandra:  Nobody seems to understand that this is not a joke. My son was 10 and he almost passed away.
Kennecke: We’ve got two health systems in this community. Did they let you down?
Cassandra: Yes. They let my son down immensely. The trauma of waking up in that condition and still being inebriated is enough to get mental health help.

Cassandra works three jobs, but can’t afford private insurance and relies on Medicaid. She questions if that’s the reason her son wasn’t admitted for inpatient treatment.

Meanwhile, she wants to send out a warning to parents to talk to their children about the dangers of alcohol at an early age.

“We’re not always guaranteed tomorrow. So if you’ve got a chance to talk to your kids heart to heart, do it,” Cassandra said.

“I’m never doing it again because that scared me. I still cry from it sometimes, knowing my mom loves me still and basically saved my life, knowing that she cared,” Jaeden said.

And he has a message for his peers in middle school, where he’s already hearing about vaping, marijuana and alcohol.

“If you’re thinking about the drink and you’re the age of me, don’t do it. It’s going to mess you up and you’re going to regret it after. You’re not going to like it. It’s not going to be fun for you, “Jaeden said.

We reached out to both health care systems, Sanford and Avera to ask them about Jaeden’s case and why he was not admitted for more help. We received generic statements from both health systems that did not address this situation specifically. You can read their statements below:

At Sanford Health, we are dedicated to caring for all of our patients. That includes working with other health systems in the community. Our doctors and nurses are committed to meeting the needs of our patients and their families.

Dr. Joseph Segeleon, vice president of pediatrics

Avera strives to offer high-quality, compassionate care to our patients. Patient privacy laws prevent us from providing any comment regarding a particular patient care issue. Generally speaking any hospital admission, including admission to a behavioral health hospital, must meet certain clinical criteria.

Lindsey Meyers, Vice President of Public Relations and Communications for Avera Health

Find resources for talking with your children about alcohol online.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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