Drinking Deaths of Two 11-Year-Old Boys Stir Anguish in Montana

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When two 11-year-old Montana boys didn’t come back for afternoon classes at Ronan Middle School last Friday, it didn’t immediately raise alarm bells. They were probably just playing hookie.

But when their frozen bodies were found in a snowy field Monday, and it was learned they had drunk massive amounts of liquor, it set off an anguished search for answers.

‘‘If two kids are intoxicated to the point that they lay down on the prairie and die, there’s some negligence there,” Lake County Sheriff Bill Barron told the Associated Press. ‘‘Somebody has got to be responsible for these two kids just laying down and dying. If it’s the system, we’re going to have to work on the system.”

Frankie Sonneah Nicolai III and Justin Benoist apparently skipped school Friday afternoon, got their hands on a large quantity of liquor and ran off to drink it.

A friend who went searching for them Monday found their bodies about 100 yards apart in a field outside Ronan, a Flathead Indian Reservation of 1,800 people in northwestern Montana.

Link: http://www.helenair.com/articles/2004/03/04/montana/a01030404_04.txt

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