Alcohol Beverage Four Loko Blamed by Family for Death

13-year-old killed in Saturday accident

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Mother of 13-year-old Michael Turluck said he drank a Four Loko beverage before his death on Saturday. (Published Tuesday, Feb 21, 2012)

    A Maryland family blames the controversial alcoholic beverage Four Loko for their son's death.

    A car hit and killed 13-year-old Michael Turluck after he fell out of a moving vehicle Saturday in Parkville, just north of Baltimore. His mother told News4's sister station WBAL he was leaning out of the car to vomit, sick from consuming a Four Loko alcoholic drink.

    "I lost the only son I am ever going to have because they wanted to party," Kris Keys, Trulock's mother, told WBAL. "It's sad. It's just really sad, and I don't want to see another family have to go through this."

    Several states banned a caffeinated version of the drink in 2010 and pulled it off store shelves.  Investigators don't know yet if Turluck drank the caffeinated or decaffeinated form.

    A company representative from Four Loko emailed WBAL the following statement on the incident:

    "Four Loko can labels feature six different statements in 10 locations regarding the alcohol content and the need for an ID for purchase. In 2012, an additional label statement will be added that compares a can of Four Loko to 12-ounce, 5-percent (alcohol by volume) beers. Our labels and marketing materials clearly state our message: If you're 21 or older and choose to drink, please drink responsibly. If you’re under 21, respect the law and don't drink."

    The company that makes Four Loko, Phusion Projects, issued the following statements about the drink and the incident:

    "On November 16, 2010, prior to the FDA's letter, we voluntarily reformulated Four Loko by removing caffeine, guarana, or taurine. We began producing the reformulated version of Four Loko on November 18, 2010. No shipments of our products containing caffeine from Phusion's production facilities were made after November 17, 2010. We were pleased that the FDA commended us on November 24, 2010, for our decision to voluntarily reformulate our products."

    "Phusion Projects is extremely saddened by this tragic event and our thoughts are with this young boy's families and friends. This accident, and others like it, speaks to the serious concerns regarding underage drinking and alcohol abuse. We work very hard to ensure our products are consumed safely and responsibly by adults over the age of 21. We are staunch supporters of the need for stronger enforcement of existing laws, which clearly state that no one under 21 years of age should consume any type of alcohol. Those that sell or provide alcohol to minors should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."