A Washington State University freshman died over the weekend from what investigators said was respiratory failure due to acute alcohol poisoning.
Kenneth Hummel, 18, was found unconcious in Stephenson Hall early Sunday.
Whitman County Medical Examiners determined his blood alcohol level was 0.4, five times the legal limit.
Lee Ann Easton, Hummel's aunt, says her nephew was a smart kid who did a stupid thing.
"They take risks, engage in risky behaviors and make stupid mistakes, and they shouldn't die because of those mistakes,” she said.
Last weekend in the dorm, Hummel drank a fatal amount of alcohol. His friends say he also consumed an unknown amount of a drink called 5 Hour Energy.
The label says a serving is equivalent to a cup of coffee, and warns not to drink more than two bottles a day.
Easton says empty 5 Hour Energy bottles were found in Hummel’s room, and that the coroner told his family that while the alcohol killed him, the energy drink was a contributing factor.
"The problem with these energy drinks which are highly caffeinated is that the person who drinks one, and alcohol, too much alcohol, that their body can't shut down. and they can drink alcohol past the point that their body can't handle it,” she said.
Two years ago, the state liquor board banned the sale of alcoholic energy drinks when health threats started to surface - including nine students at Central Washington University who were hospitalized after drinking Four Loko.
But in this case it was the student who combined the alcohol and the caffeinated drink together, not the manufacturer.
It’s a mistake his family is trying to prevent in others.
"These energy drinks with alcohol is just a deadly combination. Kids need to know that,” said Easton.
WSU President Elson S. Floyd issued a statement, saying the information in the coroner's report is "sad and disturbing."
"It also is a dramatic incentive for us to re-double our already extensive efforts in student education about alcohol use and abuse. To that end, we have formed a special task force to focus new strategies and tactics on addressing a variety of student alcohol issues," Floyd said.
"Our work will dovetail with and complement the brave efforts of Kenny's family to ensure his death becomes a springboard for education about the dangers of high-risk drinking," Floyd added. "We continue to hold them in our thoughts as they share their private story publicly in order to help others."
KING 5 contacted the company who makes 5 Hour Energy and we're waiting to hear from them.
A state coalition to reduce underage drinking is taking a closer look at this issue, especially when it comes to education and prevention. Visit StartTalkingNow.com for more information.
KING 5's Elisa Hahn, Susan Wyatt and Lindsay Chamberlain contributed to this report