The dangers of buying alcohol for minors, a family's story - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

The dangers of buying alcohol for minors, a victim's family story

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CARLSBAD (CBS 8) - A North County family who lost a loved one has a sobering message this spring break.

"I think that the person who would buy alcohol for a teenager is ignorant," said Vince Zellefrow, the father of 20-year-old Vinnie Zellefrow, who was killed by a hit-and-run teen driver who police say admitted to drinking earlier in the day and after the crash.

The victim's family doesn't think her punishment was nearly enough and they want people who help teens get their hands on alcohol to be held accountable.

On February 12, on Carlsbad Boulevard north of Island Way, the 20-year-old was hit and killed while riding his skateboard.

The suspect, a 17-year-old girl, her name is being withheld because she is minor, told police she'd been drinking earlier in the day and after the crash at a party. Reports show in court she had a stranger buy her beer at a nearby Vons.

"Part of me died. Part of my heart is gone," said Zellefrow.

Police say the teen fled from the scene and was found shortly after evidence led officers to a trailer park a few miles south of the scene at a party.

Vinnie was a student who strived to attend the prestigious Burklee School of Music in Boston and his family and friends are campaigning for parents and adults to make a change.

"I would like to think that strangers are not going to buy alcohol for any pretty teenager that comes up and asks," says Ashton Eghtesadi.

He was Vinnie's best friend and wants his memory to stay alive. He and Vinnie's family believe the teen's punishment wasn't tough enough.

"The parents should be held responsible, because the way our judicial system is set up the minors are protected more than the victims and that is not right," said Zellefrow.

The legal blood alcohol limit to drive for persons 21 and older is a .08 level. Police say the underage girl had a BAC level of .07, the legal driving limit for persons under the age of 21 is .01. Juveniles face a maximum of four years for felony hit and run resulting in death. The teen pleaded guilty and had the manslaughter and DUI charges dropped. A judge sentenced the teen to one year and four months in juvenile detention. 

Reports show in court prosecutors said a random stranger bought her beer at a nearby by Vons before the crash.

"That night Vinnie was put in danger by someone else's poor decision, many people's poor decisions," said Eghtesadi.

The punishment may be light, if convicted of buying alcohol for minors may carry jail time, a $1,000 fine and community service.

Vinnie's family and friends say they face the real punishment of a lifetime of pain.

"As a community it's our job to protect each other which also includes not putting each other in danger," said Eghtesadi.

Nothing will bring back Vinnie but his family says they will fight for change to save other lives.

"At some point someone needs to be held more responsible because I lost my son and he was my namesake. It's tough, it's really tough," said Zellefrow.

Earlier this month Alcohol Beverage Control officers in conjunction with local law enforcement targeted adults in the statewide Operation Shoulder Tap sting and netted more than three dozen arrests in San Diego County involving adults who bought alcohol for minors.

Vinnie's family and friends are raising money for a music scholarship in his name for students at Carlsbad High School.

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