MY GIRL WAS KILLED BY A COCKTAIL
PARIS’ TRAGIC DEATH LEFT A COMMUNITY IN MOURNING AND A MOTHER ON A MISSION
It was 9.30pm and Sandy Kamper was in Brisbane for a work trip when she got the phone call that would strike terror into any parent.
“My husband Bill was screaming that something had happened to Paris. She was in the paddock. The ambulance [people] were working on her,” 49-year-old Sandy tells New Idea, shakily. Her 15-year-old daughter, Paris, was an Olympic horsewoman-in-training so Sandy’s immediate thought was that there’d been a terrible accident with a horse. But the reality was far more unexpected and far worse.
“I stayed calm. I knew Paris was strong and fit, and as I got in a taxi and zoomed to the airport I just prayed she’d be OK,” Sandy says.
The following hours were a race against time as Sandy had to charter a plane to get her back to Sydney because all the commercial flights were closed.
“I was texting and calling [the family]. Paris was taken to Westmead Hospital and she was stable, but it wasn’t looking good. They thought it was alcohol, but I assumed they’d pump her stomach and she’d be OK,” Sandy says.
When she arrived in the early hours of the morning, Sandy was hit full force by the unfolding situation. Paris’ alcohol reading was sky high and she was in a coma that doctors couldn’t promise she’d wake up from.
To Sandy, it didn’t make any sense.
“She was a level-headed kid. She’d never drunk or said she wanted to. She’d been at home with her sister watching TV and playing with
Just that day Paris had been to visit a new horse and sent Sandy videos of her riding, excitedly telling her she could go all the way to the Olympics with this one.
“She was so happy,” Sandy smiles. “There was nothing funny going on with her. I couldn’t understand any of it.”
So the following morning, when Paris started to crash and the treatment was failing, Sandy knew she needed answers.
“The doctor was saying I had to find out if she’d had drugs and that’s when I found the Instagram video saved on her phone,” Sandy says.
The video showed a cocktail recipe – using vodka and boiled lollies – and the comments underneath were chilling. “This is a heart attack,” read one. “Death in a glass,” joked another.
“When I saw that, I knew straight away what she’d done,” Sandy says.
“Paris was a curious kid. She was always experimenting, making play-doh and slime, baking and putting stuff in the bath. I knew she’d copied that video because she’d thought it looked fun. She’d mixed a packet of sour warheads with a bottle of vodka and drunk it straight.”
But despite having the information it was too late and there was little the doctors could now do. They stabilised Paris but on June 10 she was pronounced clinically brain dead as a result of swelling caused by lack of oxygen.
“I’d warned her about driving too fast and about ‘bad’ boys. We’d talked about social media. I’d told her horses were dangerous, but I’d never told her if she drank straight vodka over an hour she’d be dead because I didn’t know,” Sandy sobs.
“That much alcohol is lethal to a child. Our culture is all about drinking but it’s lethal. It killed her in 40 minutes.”
That night before Paris’ death, Sandy tells how she was allowed to sleep next to her daughter one last time until the following day, surrounded by her family and friends, Paris’ machines were turned off.
“I held her the whole time. I felt her heart stop,” Sandy says. “Everyone was hysterical, but I stayed by her side. I didn’t eat or sleep. I stood firm until there was nothing more I could do.”
Back home Paris’ parents, her sisters, Olivia and Phoebe, brother Ryan, best friend Charlise and all the local community have been left reeling.
“I’ve had so many mums come up to me and say that could have been their child,” Sandy says.
“I want them to know there is a real danger with alcohol. It happened to us and we’re just a normal family.
“Alcohol isn’t fun. It’s a poison and I want to help educate people about the dangers because I didn’t know how lethal it could be.”
“The ache is there constantly,” she goes on. “Seeing my family and my kids in so much pain is ripping my heart out, but we have to deal with it the best way we can and make her proud.
“She wouldn’t want me to be angry and if what happened to her can save another child’s life, stop another parent going through what we are, then that’s a good thing.”
“I STAYED BY HER SIDE. I DIDN’T EAT OR SLEEP. I STOOD FIRM UNTIL THERE WAS NOTHING MORE I COULD DO”
Paris’ heartbroken mother, Sandy, has opened up about her daughter’s tragic death.
Young Paris was a keen equestrian and an Olympic hopeful – but her life was cruelly cut short by a cocktail recipe she mixed at home.
Sandy describes her daughter as “a curious kid” and believes she copied the video because it looked like “fun”.