The death of a 14-year-old Santa Rosa girl due to alcohol-related causes has brought an outpouring of support for the grieving family and calls for parents to talk to their children about the dangers of alcohol consumption.
The investigation into the death of Takeimi Rao is on pause as detectives await toxicology results to determine the amount of alcohol ingested by the teen and the role it may have played in her death.
Three friends were with Rao Saturday night at a sleepover in her north Santa Rosa home when they snuck vodka from a kitchen cabinet and drank the liquor mixed with soda. All four became ill and threw up during the night. Rao was found dead on her bedroom floor and it is possible she choked on her own vomit, officials said.
Neither the girls, who apparently told Rao's mother they had food poisoning after becoming sick, nor their families have spoken publicly about the incident. They were not identified by Sonoma County sheriff's officials who said they were waiting for confirmation on how Rao died before releasing their names.
The surviving girls initially told officials they didn't know what they were drinking, "but when the gravity of the situation hit them, they told us exactly what happened," Lt. Dennis O'Leary said.
"They knew they were drinking alcohol," he said.
However investigators still don't know how much alcohol they consumed. The girls were taken to a hospital for evaluation but it was more than 12 hours after they were drinking; the alcohol had flushed from their bodies, he said.
As for Rao, who will be buried Friday, "it's just going to come down to the toxicology report," O'Leary said.
The outpouring of support for Rao and her family will be on display Wednesday when Rincon Valley Middle School will open its campus for an informal gathering of students and parents from 6 to 7 p.m.
Rao, an "A" student, completed the eighth grade this year at Rincon Valley and was set to start high school next month at Maria Carrillo.