ST. PETE: Malt Beverage, Four Loko, Under Radar After Recent Traffic Fatalities

A high-profile DUI Manslaughter case from St. Petersburg has put the malt beverage, Four Loko, under the radar and created a national “buzz” about the new drink’s popularity.Demetrius Jordan, 20, has told officers that he drank Four Loko (in addition to consuming other liquor and smoking marijuana) prior to getting behind the wheel and causing a fatal crash that killed four (4) people. Four Loko is popular with young people because it combines 12 percent alcohol with caffeine.According to a recent story in the Tampa Tribune, the beverage comes in a variety of flavors and has been the subject of controversy because some believe its makers are targeting teens. U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., wants the Federal Trade Commission to investigate. He said Four Loko looks like Monster energy drinks, which do not contain alcohol.

When shown a can of Four Loko in its grape flavor, St. Petersburg registered dietitian and nutritionist Lea Russell called it “scary stuff.” She said the can looks like it appeals to kids.

“It’s definitely going to put you on a total high. I mean, we already know what caffeine does to people,” Russell said. “And so it’s going to keep you awake and allow you to keep drinking alcohol because alcohol is a depressant and now it’s giving you the caffeine so you can drink more alcohol.”

The crash at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street and 22nd Avenue North in St. Petersburg killed Elroy McConnell II and his three (3) adult sons, Elroy McConnell III, Kelly McConnell and Nathan McConnell. All four (4) victims were from Orlando.

Four Loko is manufactured in Milwaukee by the Drink Four Brewing Company. Company executives have heard about the St. Petersburg wreck and the statements by the suspect about their product.

“We are deeply saddened by this horrific tragedy,” said Chris Hunter, managing partner with Phusion Projects, the company that makes and distributes Four Loko. “Our thoughts are with the McConnell family during this difficult time.”

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