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IU death spotlights 911 law

– Indiana University officials, lawmakers and a liquor store chain are working to make underage drinkers aware of the state’s new Lifeline law after the death of an IU freshman who suffered a head injury during a party where alcohol was being served.

The law is designed to grant immunity to someone who calls for help for another person who needs medical care because of alcohol consumption, even if the person is underage.

Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, said the goal of the law is to put the safety of someone needing help first.

Rachael Fiege, a 19-year-old from Zionsville, died last Saturday after friends found her at the bottom of some basement stairs after an apparent fall.

They told police they moved her to another room and monitored her overnight, but no one called for help until nearly six hours later, when she couldn’t be awakened.

The new law details how immunity is given if help is sought “for an individual who reasonably appeared to be in need of medical assistance due to alcohol consumption.”

Merritt said he thinks police will be more focused on getting care for the injured person, even if it the injury turns out not to be alcohol-related, than on arresting anyone who called 911.

“A lot of times we need to put a little more confidence in law enforcement,” he said.

IU spokesman Mark Land told WTHR-TV in Indianapolis that campus officials are building their campaign to educate students, especially incoming freshmen, about the Lifeline law.