South Lake Tahoe CA drinks were not drugged, police say

South Lake Tahoe police remind tourists and residents to keep safe while drinking during the Fourth of July weekend.

South Lake Tahoe police remind tourists and residents to keep safe while drinking during the Fourth of July weekend.

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Toxicology results released Friday showed there were no harmful substances found after four people sought emergency medical treatment last month out of fear their drinks were tampered at South Lake Tahoe establishments.

While the toxicology results show their drinks were not tampered with, the South Lake Tahoe Police Department cautioned local residents and visitors to always be watchful when drinking alcohol in public, especially as the region gears up for an influx of tourists during one of its busiest holiday weekends.

Lt. Travis Cabral, a Police Department spokesman, said Friday the toxicology results were negative for the four people who filed police reports and sought treatment between June 11 and June 22.

The Police Department on June 23 announced on its Facebook page that a detective was investigating reports of people in South Lake Tahoe consuming drinks that were drugged at area bars.

Cabral told The Sacramento Bee that the social media post was intended to make people aware of the reports being investigated, and to offer helpful guidance on how to prevent drink tampering by taking appropriate precautions. Investigators do not believe the drinks were drugged or a crime occurred, but Cabral said it has happened before.

Tips to stay safe while drinking

In the Facebook post, police officials asked residents and visitors to call the Police Department immediately if they suspect they had a contaminated drink or if they see any suspicious activity while dining or imbibing.

Among the safety tips for drinking at bars, police officials asked residents and visitors to:

Never take a drink from a stranger;

Keep a cover or a lid on your drink, especially when moving to and from the bar or tables;

Take a drink back to the bartender immediately if you suspect it has been tampered with;

Always watch your drinks being made; and

Never leave your drink unattended.

It’s a sobering reminder as many are expected to head to restaurants and bars as they enjoy the three-day Fourth of July holiday weekend, and the Lake Tahoe area is in the middle of its busy summer season.

“Be aware of your environment and your drink at all times, and always have a buddy system in place,” authorities said in a news release Tuesday.

Be mindful of altitude, too

South Lake Tahoe Police Lt. Shannon Laney said the high altitude in the area, along with other factors, could lead to some unexpected effects for visitors drinking alcohol there.

“When you’re coming here from lower-altitude areas, like the Bay Area or the Sacramento Valley, and you’re not used to the high altitude here, it affects them more and faster,” Laney said about drinking alcohol. “There’s also dehydration, and you can come up here and find 90-degree weather in the summer.”

Laney urged anyone drinking alcohol, especially those in South Lake Tahoe, to drink plenty of water, pace themselves and eat plenty of food.

So what would you do if you suspected your drink was contaminated? South Lake Tahoe police recommend doing exactly what the four concerned people last month did: Head to the nearest hospital for a blood test and call the Police Department at 530-542-6100.

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Rosalio Ahumada writes breaking news stories related to crime and public safety for The Sacramento Bee. He speaks Spanish fluently and has worked as a news reporter in the Central Valley since 2004.