Matt James toxicology report released - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Matt James toxicology report released

By Stefano DiPietrantonio – bio |email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The toxicology results are back in the death of Matt James. The star football player from Saint Xavier High School and Notre Dame recruit died in Panama City, Florida on Spring Break.

A toxicology report released Wednesday in Panama City said the 17-year-old James had a blood-alcohol level of 0.19. An adult is considered drunk legally in Florida at 0.08 or above.

James was a 6-foot-8, 280-pound offensive lineman who planned to enroll at Notre Dame in June.

There are a number of factors that go in to determining a person's blood alcohol concentration.

"The sort of the big five are, a person's body weight, their age, their gender, how much alcohol they've consumed obviously, and then of course, if they're experienced with alcohol, that is they have maybe tolerance to alcohol, or if they're naive, all of those factors will affect how one responds to alcohol drinks," said Dr. Robert Anthenelli, who is Director at the Tri-State Tobacco and Alcohol Research Center (Tri-TARC).

Anthenelli said the major killer of young people below age 24 is accidental deaths and the leading contributor is alcohol. Even at levels below the legal limit, judgement, balance and coordination are all impaired.

"So the signals one normally gets that, wait I'm drinking too much or I'm getting intoxicated, might not be as sharp as they should be and that's of course what leads a lot of people to over-imbibe," said Anthenelli.

The autopsy revealed James died of brain injuries after falling from a fifth floor balcony at the Days Inn Hotel.

"When one gets into the .10 to .20 range, we see more ataxia," said Anthenelli. "Which is really unstable gait, problems with coordinating ones movements."

"Typically one has to drink 5 or 6 to 8 drinks to get to that legal level," Anthenelli said. "Now that's of course based on a smaller, 70 kilogram average kind of human being."

But Matt James was anything but average, at 6'8" and just shy of 300 pounds.

"Your body can absorb about one drink per hour. and your body can break down about one drink per hour, it's kind of a fixed scale, so if you consume a large amount like ten drinks or so, you can get a very high blood alcohol concentration and that actually might stay above the legal limit of intoxication for several hours because now we're waiting for the alcohol to be broken down at about a drink per hour level," Anthenelli said.

Anthenelli suggested parents use this tragedy as a reason to "have that talk" with their kids about the dangers of alcohol.

No charges have been filed in James' death.

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