Arrest in case of comatose teen

A near-dead comatose Cromwell girl found in the street was nearly mistaken for a pile of rubbish.

Peter Green was out walking the family dog about 10.30pm on Wednesday, August 13, when he came across the 16-year-old in shadows on the street verge and wearing black.

''At first I thought it was a pile of rubbish, '' he said on National Radio last night.

''Then I realised it was a body and I asked if they were OK. There was absolutely no response.''

An 18-year-old woman was arrested yesterday and charged with supplying alcohol to a minor in relation to the incident.

The 16-year-old had collapsed in a street after consuming vodka in the town on a night when temperatures dropped to about minus 5degC.

When found, she was unresponsive, hypothermic and possibly only an hour away from death, police said.

Sergeant Simon Paget said a decision was yet to be made whether a group of 16-year-olds who were also involved would face consequences.

The arrested woman was known to one of the 16-year-olds and was very upset about what had happened, Sgt Paget said.

She will appear in the Alexandra District Court on September 17.

After finding the girl, Mr Green went back and fetched a torch and his wife, Wanda Green.

The police were called and then an ambulance.

Her body temperature was down to 34degC, Mr Green said.

''She was lucky she was in the recovery position. Had she been lying on her back, she could have choked on her own vomit.''

Mrs Green said the discovery of the girl was ''frightening''.

''As a parent ... it makes you feel quite afraid that groups of children, or anyone's children, would drink that much and get into that state and the possibility of what could happen.''

People who had been in touch with Mrs Green after the event had said it was very fortunate the girl was found.

It was not the sort of thing people expected to happen in Cromwell, she said.

Sgt Paget said people, particularly in the 18 to 20 age range, needed to understand the consequences of supplying young people with alcohol.

''We have been proactively policing this for a while now, and we are trying to draw their attention to just how serious the impact can be.''

Central Otago Deputy Mayor Neil Gillespie said he did not think the issue was ''huge'' in Cromwell, but he suspected it did happen.

''But it is clear what has happened should be a huge lesson to everybody that it [supply of alcohol to minors] should not take place.

''We have got to take the positives out of what has happened and learn from that and make sure it does not happen to anybody else.''

Southern District Health Board media liaison officer Melissa Garry said, when contacted yesterday afternoon, she would not be able to organise anybody for comment before the end of the day.

Cromwell Youth Worker Trust manager Amy Phillips said she had been instructed by trustees of the group not to conduct any interviews regarding the incident, as it was an issue for police.