Restaurant serves 3 children alcoholic drinks

9:00 PM, Jul 7, 2011   |    comments
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The mother, Pam Bruenning, was out with her three kids - all 8 or younger - on July 4 when the children got thirsty.

"We were walking to the fireworks to set up our chairs and our blankets and we decided that we were going to Chili's to cool off and get an appetizer or a couple things to eat," Bruenning said.

They ordered three fruit smoothies from the restaurant.

After drinking them for a bit, her 8-year-old daughter started complaining of dizziness and stomach pain.

Bruenning said her daughter told her, "'Mom, this doesn't taste really good,' and so I leaned over to take a drink to see if something was wrong with it and it was just loaded with tequila. You could tell right away. I mean, it didn't take much."

Bruenning says the amount was significant.

"If I would have had one then I know that would have been strong for me, and I can't imagine how strong that was for them," she said.

Bruenning complained to the Chili's management, who called the fire department and EMTs. The medical officials arrived to test the children to make sure they were OK.

According to Bruenning, the officials could not get a good breathalyzer reading on her kids either because they could not execute the test well enough due to their age, or because the alcohol had not yet metabolized.

The children were not hospitalized and were OK enough to attend the fireworks show later. However, the 8-year-old passed out at the park during the fireworks show and the 6-year-old son was very wild, according to Bruenning.

"He was all over the place, which he usually is, my son, he was just extra wild, throwing stuff all around and acting really crazy," she said.

The 1-year-old did not seem to be greatly affected. Bruenning says she stayed up all night to make sure her kids were OK.

"I was just really scared because I've never really been in a situation like that," Bruenning said. "I had no idea what to expect of how dangerous it was or wasn't for them, or how much they had."

Longmont Police referred the case to the city prosecutor. According to police, the drinks were poured into kid's cups, so police believe there could be a level of negligence there.

Police also mentioned that the server should have noticed the mistake, given it was during peak hours at the business. No one has been officially charged.

The family has not decided whether or not they will press charges against Chili's. Bruenning says she is just frustrated and encourages all parents to check their kids' drinks when out at a restaurant.

"They could have hurt the kids, any one of the kids. I'm upset that they were that irresponsible with it because if you're serving alcohol and you have that responsibility, I think you have the responsibility to be very careful and check each and every person that you're serving - checking IDs and making sure that you are responsible for that person," she said. "If it's getting poured into a kids' cup, then you aren't really doing that."

The Longmont Chili's released a statement through its owner, Brinker International:

"At Chili's, the health and safety of our guests is of utmost importance. Because it's a top priority, we train our servers and bartenders on responsible alcohol service and hold them accountable to adhering to our policies and procedures. The Longmont Chili's cooperated fully with local authorities in this instance. Additionally, we are conducting our own formal and thorough internal investigation. We take violations of Chili's policies and procedures very seriously, and if warranted, disciplinary action - which can include termination - is taken."

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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