Four Loko Partly Blamed For 13-Year-Old Killed After Vomiting & Falling From Car

PARKVILLE, Md. (WJZ)— The Parkville community is in mourning following the death of a 13-year-old boy run over in the middle of Harford Road. But it’s how he got there that has some, including his mother, pointing the finger at a controversial alcohol drink called Four Loko.

Derek Valcourt explains the accident is drawing attention to underage drinking.

The death of Michael Truluck, 13, is devastating to the Parkville teenagers who came to pay respects at his makeshift memorial.

“He’s a really good kid. He’s smart but he just made a few bad decisions,” said Lauren McNamara.

Saturday, Truluck and his friends apparently spent the afternoon drinking alcohol in the woods of Parkville’s Double Rock Park. As his stepfather drove him home along Harford Road Saturday night, Michael became sick to his stomach.

“He drank one of these energy drinks with alcohol in them that these kids around here all seem to think are OK and he needed to vomit and as he opened up the door, he fell out and then was run over,” said Michael’s mother, Kris Keys.

Keys didn’t know her 13-year-old son had been drinking Four Loko, but it’s known as a drink of choice for teens his age.

“I hear a lot of people saying they went to bonfires or something, drinking Four Loko. I won’t do it; it’s just not right, man,” said Jared Martin.

While it may surprise some people that parks are a popular spot for middle school kids to come hang out and drink alcohol, addiction specialists say that’s not uncommon.

“The age of use of alcohol is getting younger and younger,” said Mike Gimbel.

Gimbel, a drug and alcohol specialist, says products like Four Loko are intentionally marketed toward teens and college students.

“It’s got flavor—there’s orange and grape. It’s cheap—less than $4 for a 23-ounce can. And it’s packed with booze. There’s four cans of beer worth of alcohol in one can,” Gimbel said.

Grief counselors are expected to be on hand Tuesday at Parkville Middle School where Michael Truluck was an eighth- grader.

UPDATE: Four Loko officials says that the beverage is not and should not be considered an energy drink because all caffeine was removed from the recipe in 2010.

More from Derek Valcourt
  • lacey

    they took the caffeine out of them awhile ago.

    • Sara

      The drink is not the problem. There are drugs and alcohol everywhere. I feel horrible for what happened and this shouldn’t have happened to anyone but sometimes God just calls you up. You can’t blame an energy drink with alcohol when you’re in a world surrounded by them and the drink clearly states its alcoholic. This is a tragic loss and this little boy needs to be remembered not start a battle.

      • Fruit enthusiast

        Parent, where are you getting the idea that because it comes in fruit flavors, it’s targeted to children? I know plenty of adults who like fruit. You can’t blame a drink for someone’s death. It’s just a can full of liquid. It doesn’t force itself down anyone’s throat, and it shouldn’t have even been available to a 13-year-old. There are a bunch of people to blame here- Michael himself for making the decision to drink something he obviously didn’t know enough about to drink safely (not to mention he most likely knew it was illegal), his parents for not educating him about the dangers of alcohol- even alcohol that’s fruity, and the person who gave a 13-year-old alcohol and didn’t think anything of it. There is a reason we have a drinking age… to protect young people who don’t fully understand the effects of alcohol and its dangers. It’s ridiculous that someone had to lose his life at the age of 13 in an alcohol-related incident. Why can’t kids just be satisfied playing sports and videogames? Whether it was boredom or peer pressure, there were other options, and this did not have to happen.

      • Adam

        Well put. However, it is particularly insensitive to attribute this as “god’s will”. Unfortunate accident? Absolutely.

      • Parent

        WAKE UP this product is killing our children it is intentionally marketed toward teens look at the labeling the flavors that it comes in. This trash needs to be taken off the market, and the manafacture be held accountable. ANY parent would see the damger in something like this with a 12% alcohol voulme. As a member of this community I will fight to get this garbage off the shelves.

  • Steve Wilson

    Who was the responsible adult at this point, the mother, the step-father, the biological father? That answered, where were they when he went out to “party”? This is another case of irresponsible parenting leading to a tragedy. They are just as, if not more, responsible than the makers of Four Loko, the vendor who sold it, and the person who bought it.

    • Mary

      You are absolutely right Steve. What a horrible, senseless tragedy for this poor boy. It goes right back to the adults responsible for him. Where were they? surely they will not take responsibility and it will be someone else’s or the manufacturers fault. He was not an adult, he was 13. Still in need of much needed parental guidance. You said it perfectly, irresponsible parenting lead to this tragedy. My thoughts and prayers are with the family an everyone who loved/knew him.

      • Adam

        This is exactly the kind of alarmist journalism that attempts to raise controversy over a non-issue. First of all it is not clear if the beverage even was Four Loko in subsequent news reports. Secondly, Four Loko was not outside handing out free booze to children. It is solely the fault of the vendor (if he sold the booze to children) and poor parenting. Again, an unfortunate accident. An unfortunate accident that may not have happened with more responsible parents. But consuming a different alcoholic beverage would not have altered the events. Shame on you CBS Baltimore…..

    • Bill

      Don’t you think these precocious young kids should take a little responsibility for their behavior? Is it always on the adult. With the adult like things middle schoolers aspire to do, taking responsibility I guess is never one of them. RIP, kid.

  • C

    it seems very convienent to blame the drink…but what about putting some responsibility on 1. the kid who drank it 2.. the adult who gave it to him 3. The father who didnt call 911 or take the kid to the ER when he picked the kid. if he was that sick any person would have known he was drunk, or at least under the influence of something. I’m not trying to downplay how tragic this is, because its every parents worst nightmare, but banning a drink isnt going to fix the problem. Kids are abusing prescription drugs…should we ban them too?? No, we should make the people who buy them be more accountable for how they are dispensed. History has shown us , if you ban something it makes it more attractive, and also people will just find something else in its place.

  • Trudy

    I feel very sad for this young man and his family…..but i do have one question. Why did the stepdad and the boy’s friends let him open the door? Why not vomit out the window or stop the car. Thank God they did not have this drink when I was young…..I might not here right now!! What a tragic loss!!!!

    • Sara

      definintely true! there shouldn’t have been any reason why the door needed to be open while ANYONE was in the car and the car was moving thats just ridiculous!

  • Wiseguy

    Seat belt ?

    • Trudy


    • Karla Brown

      I was thinking the exact same thing! He must not have had his seatbelt on.

  • Stacy L

    I feel sorry for this young man’s family, but I am so TIRED of people blaming four loko on deaths, take responsibility on your own actions. How did a 13 year old get it in the first place? Plus, when age appropriate people drink it, they should just use common sense!! You wouldn’t buy a bottle of vodka and drink the whole thing straight w/in minutes, what makes you think you can do the same w/ four loko?? Alcohol is alcohol!! I’ve drank four loko many times, and I managed to stay alive some how.

  • Susan

    I would think that the lack of a seatbelt is as much to blame as the Four Loko. The Four Loko isn’t to blame. If he hadn’t been drinking that, he would have been drinking something else.

  • Laurie

    How is four loko to blame for this poor kids death?! WHY is a 13 year old drinking ANY alcoholic drink? Where was the parental supervision? Why did the driver of the vehicle not check to make sure EVERYONE was belted, especially his drunken 13 year old stepson? It blows my mind that the news wants to focus on four loko and not the negligent parents and adults who were around this child. Place the blame where the blame is due, lack of parental supervision is the direct cause of this senseless death. His mother needs to stop pointing her finger at the makers of this drink and start pointing it at herself!

    • Rick

      Though I agree that parenting has lots of impact on a child behavior and the specific alcoholic drink makes no difference (in earlier times it would have been Strawberry wine, Boone’s farm, MD 20/20 or any fruity easy to drink booze,) You cannot easily blame the parent for a seatbelt enforcement problem. Next time you have a minute go out to a car, sit in the passenger seat, put on the seatbelt and open the door. There is a good chance if you do that you will be able to easily lean out the door and thus fall. From the description of the accident, it was obvious that the car was not in the rightmost lane when this happened so it would have been unsafe for the father to stop.

      If it was a caffeinated alcoholic drink (like vodka and red bull for example) it can also mask the effects of alcohol to make the boys state less obvious or seem less severe.


    i think they shouldnt make drinks because they know the teens will drink this and this is my ex boyfriend that passed away and yea i still love him and miss him he means so much to me my life sucks with out

    • GabbzHoward

      I’m sorry for your loss brittany. I send condolences. My friend told me she was a close friend of his. I looked him up, and read the story. This is very common behavior amongst young teens. Honestly though banning the drink won’t work. Look at marijuana. it’s illegal and everybody has access to it.

  • Jenn Watt

    My Brother Was His Best Friend . Im Tired Of seeing His Mother Get Bad Mouthed . If You Were In Her Shoes, You Wouldnt Want People Bad Mouthing You . I Was There Last Night . Seeing All Those Teenagers Crying Broke My Heart . I Had All The Kids And His Grandmother Sign A Poster For Michael . R.I.P Michael Thomas Truluck

  • Nicole

    It’s not the drink. It is bad parenting though, why was the kid not wearing a seat belt? If he had a seat belt on he wouldn’t of fallen outta the car in the first place to get ran over? Why did he open the door instead of just rolling down the window?

  • jaime

    We can blame the drink and I most certainly do. There is no need for the human race to have a deceptively potent alcoholic drink marketed for young people on the market. When this is permitted, you have fatalities. The company which sells this drink, the distributor who sold the drink to minors or the adult who provided the alcohol to minors should all be held responsible. There are no excuses for this tragic situation, none! Why blame the parents? This child may have had his seat belt on and in his drunken state suddenly, removed his belt and opened his door oblivious to the consequences. Parents who transport a drunken child, beware, they need a sober adult next to them (who is not driving) to ensure they remain belted and safe.

    • D

      How is the drink deceptive in anyway by this point? People KNOW that it has the alcohol content that it has. Why do you think the kids went out of their way to buy that? If it wasn’t that like a previous poster said they would go for something else with a fruity taste and a high alcohol content. It’s so easy to blame the manufacturer when you can’t see what the main problem is. I also fail to see how this product is even marketed for kids? It clearly states on the can the age limit for alcohol purchases as do EVERY alcoholic drink. Get your head out of your ass and think instead of pointing the finger. It’s the kid’s own damn fault, not the mother’s. The mother was probably working her ass off to provide for this kid. Im sure if you were a parent you’d realize you cannot control every action your rebellious 13 year old does. Let alone do you even know 70 percent of what goes on in that child’s brain. This country has powerful adhesives that are typically used at a commercial level that are available in schools for wood shop that kids can get high off of. With your logic we should ban all potent adhesives just because that kid that licks the windows on the short bus decided he wanted to huff glue then saw off his hand and bleed to death. Get real. And you’re not as oblivious while drunk as you’d like the think. Clearly the kid thought that he didnt want to throw up in his step fathers car so he had some sort of thought process going on. He should of thought harder and decided to roll down the window instead. Not to mention there’s always the chance of the step dad going over a pot hole at this point in time and the child being ejected.

    • Rick

      Alternatively, put ANYONE who is drunk in the back seat with child locks engaged. They are usually on the outside edge of your door when it is open.

      If you are worried about vomit, just keep some towels spread on your back seat. they are always handy and make cleanup less horrific if someone does puke.

  • Wiseguy

    Blame the drink……..Yeah……….thats the easy way out.

    While where at it blame the gun manufactors for the murders and the car manufactors for the vehicle deaths.

    And while were at it…….blame the phone company’s that offer texing services we so fondly use while driving.



      no don’t blame the gun manufacturers blame the people who use the guns!

      no don’t blame the phone company’s blame the people who text while driving

      SOOOO…. NO don’t blame the drink…… BLAME The person drinking it!!!!!!!!

  • Rosie

    WOW, do you have children and do you keep them locked up in a room? Teens have friends and hang out with friends. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s not for you to accuse these parents of being irresponsible – you don’t know them. People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

    • nancy

      i have a 14 year old son he stays in his room and his social life is playing xbox or he’s on the computer he bowls on saturdays and if i can’t be there his grandmother is there if i have to work late his grandmother picks him up from school and takes him to her house he can socialize at school but he doesn’t have to run the streets hang out at the mall parents need to be more respondisible but they need to find the adult who supplied the drink and press charges i know what kind of teenager i was and maybe i am overprotective but my son knows the difference between right and wrong

  • t

    It would be nice if everyone would stop playing the blaming game and just let this be a wake up call, the next time your kids go out make sure this doesnt happen to them . My daughter was good friends with this boy and she would never even think about picking that drink up. Mike parents and family are going through enough right now, they definitly do not need this. R.I.P. Michael Trulock

  • samantha

    Where did he get this drink??? Who is responsible for giving this to minors? They should be held accountable

  • Mike

    Wow how is this product at all deceptive.It clearly states th alchohol content on the cans and bottles.They don’t sell it in supermarkets game stop or toy r us.They sell it in liquer stores where you have to be 21 or over to buy it.Blaming 4 loco takes the easy way out.We need to teach our kids the dangers of drugs and drinking.Stop expecting the gov. and schools to do it for us.

  • Mike Brown

    You wouldn’t ban alcohol if that happened would you? I see little difference what drink it was, Alcohol is alcohol. The difference was the behavior of this particular child.

  • Kristie

    I am devistated for this family and for all involved. You can be a great parent and kids do what kids want to do. Personality has a lot to do with peer choices and peer pressure. Has not anyone else noticed this? I parent my kids the same and one tries to stay out of trouble and one lets trouble sit with him everywhere he goes. Trouble is his best friend. Advertising in general is horrible. Ever watch commercials for prescriptions? Beauty treatments? Weight loss? Other countries do not allow what we do on tv or in magazines. Sometimes it is not the parenting. Sometimes it is a freak horrific accident. We need to protect our children, clean up our world so they can be raised in a better place. Fix our economy so we can be home more with them, and enjoy the moments we have with them. I hope his friends get shook up enough to learn from this. No one is invincible,

  • Chris L.

    I don’t think the emphasis should be to blame one thing especially a drink that many adults enjoy. Where did this CHILD get the alcohol? Perhaps the child removed the seat belt, perhaps he made a poor choice to open the door instead of window because he was sick and under the influence of alcohol. We don’t know all the facts. We should not judge the parents or blame the drink. It was a serious of poor choices by the child and perhaps others but it is a tragedy. This certainly will cause a discussion in a lot of households regarding underage drinking and choices. My prayers to all who mourn his death.

  • Steve Hill

    I’m 100% positive if Four Loko is pulled from the shelves teens will stop drinking alcohol. Yeah right. The question is how did he get a hold of it to begin with, an adult was involved at some point. They should be held responsible. Educate your kids, they are ignorant by nature. Wines, beers, and alcohol come in all kinds of fruity flavors. Adults have to drink responsibly and teach their children about the dangers of life, not just Four Loko. Educate them about alcohol, drugs, guns, vehicle safety etc. and teach them to be individuals. Stop following the crowd. I’m sure at 13 years old everyone knows the difference between wrong and right. Start with the person that provided the drink, Michael’s parents and Michael himself if you want to blame someone.

  • negligent parents

    And what is a 13 year old doing drinking ALCOHOL?!!!!! Where are the parents?! They are obviously neglectful if not guilty of child endangement. Now, they try to hide behind and blame the drink?! Shame on the lack of parental control!

  • samuel smeltzer

    peaple need to stop talking about you didn,t know him welll it doesn,t matter if you didn,t know him peaple don,t have to know him to be upset RIP MICHAEL TOMAS TRULUCK GONE BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN

  • poncho

    if anything its the teens fault for his death because he drank it and he knew he wasnt supposed to be drinking that stuff at his young age , its his step-fathers fault too for not forcing him to wear the seatbelt ,its the law!, and most importantly his “friends” have the blame too , yes they are to blame for letting him drink that , a true friend will never let you drink alcohol ,which causes liver damage and other organ diseases as you all may know , or do anything illegal

    • Joe Litcht

      I fully agree!!

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