Thursday, March 15, 2012
Man Dies of Alcohol Poisoning at Chabad Purim Party
A man who was drinking at a Jewish holiday party was found dead in the parking lot of the center where members left him to sleep, police said Wednesday.
Jesse Allen, 28, who moved to Ormond Beach from Meadville, Pa., in November, was found dead Friday morning by the rabbi of the synagogue, a police report shows.
It was a death that is apparently related to a possible alcohol poisoning,” said Ormond Beach police Lt. Kenny Hayes. “There is nothing suspicious about the death.”
An autopsy was completed Tuesday, but police are awaiting toxicology test results to determine what killed Allen, Hayes said.
Allen was at a party at the Chabad Lubavitch of Greater Daytona the night before he was found dead, Hayes said.
Rabbi Pinchas Ezagui, 46, said in a telephone interview that at least 100 people were celebrating Purim, a Jewish holiday in which people dress up in costumes.
“It was a very joyous party, a party for family and children,” Ezagui said.
Purim is a festive Jewish holiday recounting the deliverance of the Jewish people from an extermination plot by Haman, as recounted in the Bible's Book of Esther. Along with a festive meal, heavy drinking used to be part of the tradition, though that is officially discouraged now, according to the website meirpanim.org.
Ezagui said alcohol was not served at Thursday's party, though some families brought alcoholic beverages with them.
“We don't serve it, but there is a bottle here and a bottle there,” Ezagui said.
The rabbi told police he saw Allen come into the building for the party about 8 p.m. Thursday.
Later, Ezagui saw Allen was intoxicated to the point that he had urinated in his pants, the report states.
A member of the Jewish group, Igor Nikomarov, 24, escorted Allen out of the center. Nikomarov left Allen on the grass to sleep his drunkenness off, police said. Nikomarov did not return a reporter's call seeking comment Wednesday.
“It is a very unfortunate situation,” Ezagui said. “We don't know the guy. He is not of the Jewish faith.”
Allen's mother, Lynn Allen, said her son loved Jewish tradition and in an email he told her he was excited to go the Purim.
She said her son loved to play drums and guitar and “sang like an angel and composed praise songs.” She will always remember her son as a giving and helpful person. Just before he left Pennsylvania, Jesse Allen gave his bicycle, his only means of transportation, to an Afghanistan veteran who had been on three tours in the war, his mother said.
Lynn Allen said her son was working on overcoming a problem with alcohol and she thought he had stopped drinking recently. She was struggling to understand why her son was left on the grass after the party.
“It's not the rabbi's fault that my son drank,” Lynn Allen said. “But as a community we look after each other and in Pennsylvania we are struggling to understand why they left him there.”