Boy, 4, suffers alcohol poisoning; mother's boyfriend arrested

Child's BAC nearly 3 times legal limit for adult

SAN DIEGO - A four-year-old boy was hospitalized with blood alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit for an adult, and authorities said his mother's boyfriend is to blame.

Christine Avila saw a frantic mother, Jackie Viera, desperately trying to save her young son, Alex.

"She went in, she started screaming, 'Why, why is he still here? Why? What's wrong?' She had the boy, she ran out, she ran to the car saying, 'It's OK, baby, I'm getting you to the hospital. It's OK,'" said Avila.

Chula Vista police said Joseph Calles, Viera's boyfriend, was taking care of Alex and the couple's five-month-old son when the incident occurred.

According to police, when the 22-year-old Calles went to check on the infant, Alex apparently drank the vodka and Squirt soda cocktail Calles left on a table.

Chula Vista Capt. Gary Wedge said, "When he was in the hospital, he was unconscious and the doctor told one of our officers that the child was basically unresponsive, which is what prompted the transfer to [Rady] Children's Hospital."

The child's blood alcohol level was .23, which is almost three times the legal limit for an adult, police said.

Police aren't sure exactly how much alcohol the child consumed, but a .23 blood alcohol level is the equivalent of a 160-pound man having 10 drinks. The average four-year-old boy weighs only 35 pounds.

Police said Calles never called 911, and when Viera came home, she drove Alex to the hospital.

Shelly Moore, Calles' aunt, told 10News, "If they didn't get him to the hospital in time it would have been fatal."

Moore said what happened was a tragic accident, and added, "My nephew would never intentionally do anything to harm his children or anybody else's, never."  

Even so, police arrested Calles and charged him with felony child abuse.

Moore said, "All he was thinking of doing was thinking, 'Oh, let me make him throw it up. Throw it up, throw it up. I guess it wasn't enough."

Relatives said Alex is now out of the hospital and doing OK. Both he and the five-month-old baby are with their mother.

10News learned Viera will not be charged.

Calles will be back in court Friday and his relatives said they will be there to support him.


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