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DON'T BLAME BARKEEPER FOR 21-YEAR-OLD'S DEATH

DEAR ABBY: This is in response to the letter from Linda Wooten of Orange Park, Fla., whose son collapsed and died after drinking 23 shots of liquor, one after the other. She said her son did it on a dare from his college friends. He was 21.

Blaming the bartender who served her son that many drinks misses the mark. A bartender is just a guy, working for $5 an hour to pay his bills and make money for his employer. He works late hours doing what he's paid to do - serve drinks. He is not a baby sitter.If the young man's mother is looking for someone to blame for her son's death, she can blame his "friends," herself and her son. His friends were old enough to know that they had no business challenging someone to the height of stupidity. And his mother should have taught her son to be responsible for his own actions. The son, however, must accept the brunt of the blame. He accepted the challenge to drink himself "under the table."

Everyone must accept responsibility for his or her choices and actions, but it's only human nature to want to blame others for our mistakes and misfortunes. - BARBARA E. FAULKNER

DEAR BARBARA: You are right, of course. Read on for a coincidence that is stranger than fiction.

DEAR ABBY: I am writing to let you know that on Feb. 23, your article about the 21-year-old college student who died of alcohol poisoning was published in the Port Arthur News.

Abby, the same day that article appeared, a memorial service was held for Scott, my 15-year-old son, who died from the very same thing. I could not believe the timing!

More than 700 people attended Scott's memorial service, and approximately half of them were teenagers. The minister who officiated at the service read the article you had in your column about Larry Kenneth Wooten, the 21-year-old college student who drank 23 shots of straight liquor on a dare from friends. It cost him his life.

I hope and pray that the kids who attended Scott's memorial service will have learned a lesson. If just one of them is saved because of my son's death and the article you wrote about it, perhaps some good was accomplished.

I can't help wondering if perhaps Scott might have been spared if that article had come out sooner. But questions like that are useless now.

What is done is now history, and we must look ahead to the future. Thank you, Dear Abby, for educating our young people about this subject. It could be a lifesaver for many. - SANDRA K. BURMEISTER, PORT ARTHUR, TEXAS

DEAR SANDRA: My heart goes out to you on the loss of your beloved 15-year-old son.

Thank you for giving me permission (on the telephone) to use your name in my column. It took a generous woman to say, "My privacy is not as important as sending a lifesaving message to our young people."