Man with Rare Condition Gets Drunk Off Carbs Fermenting in His Gut

After being arrested for driving under the influence, the man was diagnosed with ‘auto-brewery syndrome,’ a condition that causes the gut to produce ethanol.

It was in January 2011, about a week after finishing a round of antibiotics for a thumb injury, that the man first started presenting a batch of unlikely symptoms: memory loss; brain fog; depression; aggression. His doctors couldn’t figure it out—and so, in 2014, they referred him to a psychiatrist who prescribed him a round of antidepressants. The man was later pulled over by police for allegedly driving under the influence. Despite having had nothing to drink, a breathalyser test indicated that he had the blood alcohol equivalent of someone who’d consumed 11 to 14 beverages, and he was arrested.ADVERTISEMENT

This story is the subject of a new report published in the BMJ Journal of Gastroenterology, titled: “Case report and literature review of auto-brewery syndrome: probably an underdiagnosed medical condition”. The report states that, following his arrest and at his aunt’s insistence, the 46-year-old man underwent a series of tests that eventually discovered traces of the fungus Saccharomyces cerevisiae (that is, brewer’s yeast) in his stool sample.

Saccharomyces cerevisiae is typically used during the brewing process to turn carbs into alcohol—and it was thus suspected that the man in question may have been experiencing a condition known as “auto-brewery symptom.”

“Auto-brewery syndrome (ABS), also known as gut fermentation syndrome, is a rarely diagnosed medical condition in which the ingestion of carbohydrates results in endogenous alcohol production,” reads the report abstract. “The patient in this case report had fungal yeast forms in the upper small bowel and cecum, which likely fermented carbohydrates to alcohol.”

To test this, the man was given a carb-heavy meal while having his blood alcohol levels monitored. After eight hours, it elevated to 57 milligrams per decilitre—or the equivalent of about three to five standard drinks for someone his size. He was treated for ABS and prescribed anti-fungal medication. But after several weeks, his symptoms returned, and he started to get drunk again from the brewer’s yeast in his gut.

“The most significant event caused by one of his inebriations was a fall that caused intracranial [brain] bleeding and necessitated a transfer to a regional neurosurgical centre, where he had a complete spontaneous recovery in 10 days,” according to the report. After taking a different anti-fungal medication and cutting out carbs for six weeks, he finally recovered.

It’s since been hypothesised that the man’s exposure to antibiotics triggered his boozy symptoms, by changing his gastrointestinal microbiome and allowing for “fungal overgrowth.” But this isn’t the only reported case of ABS in recent memory. In 2016, a New York woman blew a blood alcohol level that was more than four times the legal limit, but later had her charges dismissed after the judge received evidence that she suffered from the condition.

“I had never heard of auto-brewery syndrome before this case,” attorney Joseph Marusak told CNN at the time. “But I knew something was amiss when the hospital police… wanted to release her immediately because she wasn’t exhibiting any symptoms.”

“That prompts me to get on the Internet and see if there is any sort of explanation for a weird reading,” adds Marusak. “Up pops auto-brewery syndrome and away we go.”

Authors of the BMJ report believe that ABS is “probably an underdiagnosed condition.”

George Clooney’s sister-in-law jailed for drunk driving in Singapore

George Clooney

© Associated Press George ClooneyGeorge Clooney’s sister-in-law is about to serve jail time for drunk driving.

Tala Alamuddin Le Tallec, the older sister of human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, plead guilty on Monday to charges that included drunk driving and driving without insurance, according to the Straits Times in Singapore. The fashion designer received three weeks of jail time for her offenses.

Le Tallec, a resident of Singapore, also received a $6.400 fine and had her license revoked for four years. The 47-year-old fashion designer had nearly three times the legal amount of alcohol in her system upon arrest.

According to the Straits Times, the arrest occurred at a police roadblock at around 2:30 a.m. Upon being stopped, Le Tallec had trouble locating the car’s handbrake and momentarily stepped on the gas pedal as she searched for her driver’s license.

George and Amal Clooney

“The test found that she had 95 micrograms (mcg) of alcohol in 100 milliliters of breath–almost triple the prescribed limit of 35mcg of alcohol in 100ml of breath,” the paper reported. 

The paper also noted that Le Tallac has a history of driving offenses.

Le Tallec was barred from driving for two years following a drunk driving conviction in 2013. Moreover, Le Tallec was charged with “careless driving in 2010 and inconsiderate driving in 2004.”

Hollywood superstar George Clooney revealed that he met his wife Amal through a mutual friend, who asked him if he could bring a friend at the actor’s Lake Como home. “It’s the wildest thing. A mutual friend of ours said, ‘I’m stopping by and can I bring my friend?’ And I was like, ‘Of course,'” Clooney said. He further added: “The funniest thing was my mom and dad were visiting, so my parents were there, and we just talked and we stayed up all night talking and then, you know, I got her email address ’cause she was going to send me some pictures of my parents and then we started writing…”

Soon their fairytale romance began, which culminated in their marriage in September 2014. Here’s a look back at their whirlwind love story.

Le Tallec’s lawyer, Shashi Nathan, said she was “genuinely remorseful” and had made a terrible mistake.

Le Tallec is currently the owner of Totally Tala, a fashion line that she started after working as an events planner.

Woman sentenced to 10-13 years in prison for role in fatal Brockton crash

Danielle Mastro, 35, reads a statement with her attorneys Alison King and James Corbo, at Brockton Superior Court on Friday, Oct. 11, 2019. She was found guilty of motor vehicle manslaughter. (Marc Vasconcellos/The Enterprise)

Pembroke’s Danielle Mastro, who told police she was drunk and dope sick when she got in her car, was convicted on Friday of manslaughter while operating under the influence.

BROCKTON — Danielle Mastro, 35, of Pembroke, received a sentence of 10 to 13 years in prison followed by a year in county jail on Friday for her role in a 2017 fatal car crash.

Brockton Superior Court Judge Angel Kelly handed down both the verdict and the sentence in a trial where Mastro waived her right to a jury. Kelly found Mastro guilty of manslaughter while operating under the influence.

The crash in question claimed the life of Deborah Combra, a 58-year-old Bridgewater woman who was turning into her office’s parking lot when Mastro rear-ended her SUV in October 2017, sending it into the path of a dump truck approaching in the opposite lane, according to witness testimony.

The ensuing head-on collision ejected Combra from the car and killed her. A passenger traveling with Combra survived with a broken leg.

Witnesses testified that Mastro walked away from the scene on Brockton’s Quincy Street while nurses and doctors from a nearby health center rushed to treat the crash’s other victims.

Mastro later told police she initially thought the crash was a fender bender. She’d left the crash scene in a rush to buy heroin, which had been her goal since the morning, she told police, when she stole her mother’s car and evaded a police chase in Hanson on the way to meet her dealer. Mastro also told police she’d drunk six nip bottles of Vodka between 10 a.m. and the time of the crash — an admission later supported by toxicology tests.

Combra’s family and the passenger who broke her leg read victim impact statements on Friday. Tears mixed with seething anger as those close with Combra spoke of their loss.

“Miss Mastro can go to the phone and call and talk with any member of her family but I, on the other hand, I can only go to the grave to talk to a gravestone where Deb is buried and not have her respond to any questions,” said Manny Combra, Deborah’s widowed husband, in a statement read aloud by Russell Eonas, the case’s lead prosecutor.

Manny Combra weeped in the back of the courtroom while listening to his statement.

Deborah Combra’s sisters read tearful impact statements, both of which called for steep sentences for Mastro.

“I will have to render the sentence and that won’t fill the void,” Judge Kelly responded. “I know that and I want you to know that. But I see you all and I hear you and I will take that into consideration when I make a decision.”

Mastro broke into tears as Combra’s sisters described the family milestones that Combra missed after her death, including the marriage of Combra’s youngest son and the birth of her older son’s first child.

Mastro offered an apology of her own when Combra’s friends and relatives were done speaking.

“I think about all of the families who miss Deborah,” Mastro said. “I think about them on holidays. I think about them when I miss my own family.”

“There are no words that will make what I’ve done OK,” she continued. “I know that sorry doesn’t mean much but I am truly sorry.”

Mastro’s attorneys, James Corbo and Allison King, shared a brief biography of their client before sentencing. Mastro had been using opioids since high school, Corbo said, but her habit escalated after transitioning to heroin while a student at Bridgewater State College.

Mastro beat her addiction for five years, maintaining sobriety in her mid-20s while working at her father’s hardware store in Brockton, Corbo said. She later became a manager at Pet Smart.

Around her 30th birthday, Mastro underwent surgery and relapsed into addiction after taking opiates that were prescribed to her for pain relief.

“She said it’s been a ‘s— show’ ever since, in terms of her relapse,” Corbo said, quoting a conversation they had during a jail visit.

Since the fatal car crash in October 2017, Mastro has spent two years in custody awaiting trial. Her parents chose not to post bail, Corbo said.

Mastro’s attorneys said she has received only two infractions in jail — for giving money to a fellow prisoner for commissary and for using an iron to straighten her hair before trial.

Mastro’s immediate family and a handful of close family friends attended the trial.

Kelly spoke directly to Mastro before she imposed a sentence longer than the minimum of five years.

“You are more than the worst thing you’ve ever done,” Kelly said. “So remember that going forward.”

After the sentence was handed down, Manny Combra thanked the judge and prosecutors but said the end of the trial hardly brought relief.

“I’m kind of satisfied but it’s still not enough,” he said. “My wife’s never going to come back.”

Hearing continued for man found in hole following Springfield crash

A man cited following following a crash into a utility pole at the Ronez Manor apartment complex Tuesday night has been identified.

Springfield Police say the man is 33-year-old Edin Gonzalez-Velasquez.

He was found sitting at the bottom of a construction hole when police arrived, Springfield Police Sgt. Michael Curtis said.

“It would appear he lost control because he was intoxicated,” Curtis said. “He has a detainer through immigration and customs, so I suspect that is why (he ran and fell into the hole).”

The construction hole was “roped off very well,” Curtis said.

Several beer cans were found in the vehicle he crashed and suspected marijuana was found on the suspect, according to the affidavit filed with the police report.

Gonzalez-Velasquez was taken to Springfield Regional Medical Center for treatment of injuries he suffered in the crash, police said.

“I observed that Mr. Gonzalez-Velasquez had very bloodshot, red, glassy eyes and he had a strong odor of alcoholic beverage coming from his person.” the affidavit said. “When I asked Mr. Gonzalez-Velasquez how much beer he had drank today, he stated he had drank two 24-ounce beers at 6 p.m. or 7 p.m.”

Gonzalez-Velasquez did not have a driving record on file and did not have a driver license that was able to be located, according to the affidavit, which also said he was not the owner of the vehicle.

He was cited for OVI refusal and driving without a license. Gonzalez-Velasquez was ordered into court on Wednesday morning, but the case was continued to a later date, according to court records.

County Legislator Arrested for Drunk Driving

IOWA  —  State Representative Scott Ourth, a Democrat representing much of Warren County in the Iowa Legislature, is facing an OWI 1st offense charge after his arrest on Saturday in Cherokee County.

According to an arrest report, Ourth was stopped by a Cherokee police officer around 9:30 pm for driving without his headlights on.  The arresting officer said Ourth had a strong smell of alcohol and failed field sobriety tests.  A breathalyzer test showed his blood alcohol level to be .182%.  That is more than twice the legal limit.

This is not Ourth’s first drunk-driving arrest.  Online court records show he was arrested for OWI 2nd offense in Wapello County in 2000.  He was sentenced to seven days in jail after pleading guilty.

Under Iowa law, OWI offenses are measured by the most recent 12 years.  With Ourth’s most recent offense occuring 19 years after his previous arrest he is only facing a charge of OWI 1st offense.

Ourth has served in the Iowa House since 2013.

Police: Man on Ambien fired shots from his car, crashed after erratic driving in Jefferson County

Photo by: Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office

He told police he took Ambien at around 8 or 9 p.m. but didn’t remember anything else until he was pulled from his truck after the crash.Author: Sam ClancyPublished: 4:17 PM CDT October 15, 2019Updated: 4:17 PM CDT October 15, 2019

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. — A man is facing multiple charges after police said he shot at three cars and crashed into one of them while under the influence of Ambien this weekend.

Trenton Swick, 46, was charged with assault, careless driving, DWI and multiple other charges after police said he went on a reckless driving spree through Jefferson County while on Ambien.

Firefighters Make Slow, Steady Progress In Defeating LA FiresFEATURED BY

Deputies with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said they were called after three people had a scary interaction on Highway 21 near Goldman Road. They noticed a red Toyota Tacoma truck driving erratically, and passed it. The truck, which charging documents said was being driven by Swick, then sped up to catch up with them. The passengers said they heard what sounded like a rock hitting their car and saw the truck’s passenger side window shatter. The door of the car had a bullet hole which would cost about $1,000 to fix.

Police said Swick continued on Highway 21 to Highway B, where another man saw the truck stopped in the middle of the road. The man then heard multiple gunshots. He said Swick then drove up right next to him and fired multiple shots at his car, causing $1,000 worth of damage.

Swick continued driving on Highway B and eventually crossed the center line and crashed into another driver. The passengers of the car he hit said they heard a gunshot before Swick’s truck swerved in an attempt to get out of the way. Both cars ended up off the road, and the car that was struck also had a hole in the windshield that appeared to be a gunshot hole.

A bullet was found in the car and the passenger suffered injuries, but deputies do not know if the injuries were from a gunshot or the crash.

Police also said they found a handgun near Swick’s car with an empty magazine and five spent shell casings. Police said Swick appeared to be intoxicated when they spoke with him after the crash. 

Before he was taken to the hospital for treatment, Swick told police he was being chased before the crash and fired his gun in self-defense.

At the hospital, Swick was tested for drugs.

The day after the crash, police talked to Swick again and he waived his Miranda Rights. He told police he took Ambien at around 8 or 9 p.m. but didn’t remember anything else until he was pulled from his truck after the crash. He told police he did not remember seeing spent shell casings in his truck the last time he drove it.

Swick was charged with DWI, first-degree assault, armed criminal action, unlawful use of a weapon, careless and imprudent driving and property damage. His bond was set at $100,000.

Lawyers want blood test thrown out in DUI case

Scott Gragson, center, walks out of court with his attorneys, Richard Schonfeld, left, and Davi ...

Lawyers for real estate broker Scott Gragson, charged in a DUI crash that left a woman dead and others injured, want his blood alcohol test thrown out.

In a motion filed Thursday, defense attorneys David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld argued that Gragson’s blood was tested beyond a two-hour window from when police arrived at the scene of the May crash in the affluent Summerlin community known as The Ridges.

Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson declined to comment, saying he had not yet seen the motion.

A mother of three, Melissa Newton, was killed in the wreck, while three others in Gragson’s vehicle were injured. Newton’s family and the other crash victims have filed lawsuits against Gragson.

Gragson, 53, faces one count of DUI resulting in death, three counts of DUI resulting in substantial bodily harm and four counts of reckless driving. He has pleaded not guilty.

His blood was not drawn until more than three hours after the crash, even though a warrant was obtained before two hours had passed.

Gragson’s arrest report states that the first blood draw three hours after the crash measured his blood alcohol content at 0.147 percent, nearly twice the legal limit for drivers in Nevada. He admitted to Metropolitan Police Department officers that he drank for about five hours at a charity golf event, consuming “four to five mixed drinks” and Coors beers, before the crash, his arrest report said.

Under Nevada law, blood evidence drawn more than two hours after a DUI crash is not presumptive of the blood alcohol level.

An officer who responded to the crash blamed the delay on a “complicated” scene, traffic and “problems” getting a warrant, police reports show.

“The search warrant for the blood testing was defective, as there was no probable cause to take the blood beyond two hours, and the officer presented no evidence of exigency,” Chesnoff and Schonfeld wrote.

Last month, Gragson’s lawyers asked to have an indictment against him thrown out, arguing that prosecutors presented improper evidence to a grand jury and failed to reveal details that could show his innocence.

Laura Dean Mooney, advocate and former president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, dies at age 59

Laura Dean Mooney, an advocate for supporting first responders and a former president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, died Thursday night at the age of 59, according to the city of College Station. Mooney was the wife of College Station Mayor Karl Mooney.

Mooney was a member of the Texas A&M University class of 1982 and worked as a researcher at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. She served as president of the national Mothers Against Drunk Driving association from 2008 to 2011.

“Mrs. Mooney was a tireless and selfless advocate for many worthy causes and devoted countless hours in service to her community, state and nation,” a city release stated Friday morning. “The heartfelt prayers and condolences of the entire city organization are with Mayor Mooney and his family.”

Robert Wunderlich, head of TTI’s Center for Transportation Safety, described Mooney on Friday as “a tireless and cheerful worker” and praised her engagement in community activities. Mooney worked in TTI’s Center for Alcohol and Drug Education Studies.

“She wanted to make the world a better place, and that was so evident in the work that she did with us,” Wunderlich said. “We will honor her legacy by reaffirming her passion for those transportation safety issues.”  

MADD released a statement Friday morning that called Mooney a “fierce and tireless advocate for tougher drunk driving laws, law enforcement and the victims of impaired driving,” something that stemmed from her response to tragic loss. Her husband, Mike Dean, was killed by a drunken driver in 1991, just eight months after their daughter, Tara, was born.

“My husband was killed for no reason, and my daughter was fatherless,” Mooney said in 2008, just after her election as MADD president and 15 years after first joining MADD as a volunteer. “There wasn’t Thanksgiving that year. My daughter’s life, my life, and that of all the families involved changed forever. Fortunately, I decided to do something about this horrific event by trying to prevent others from suffering the same kind of pain. MADD makes the roads safer, and I wanted to be part of that.”

Visitation will be 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18 at Hillier Funeral Home of College Station. Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 19 at Grace Bible Church in College Station, followed by graveside services at 1 p.m. in Oaklawn Cemetery in Somerville.

At the request of Mayor Mooney, a fund is being established at the Community Foundation of the Brazos Valley to honor the legacy of Laura Mooney. Memorial contributions should be made payable to: CFBV — Laura Mooney Fund benefiting Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

Checks should be mailed to: Community Foundation of the Brazos Valley P.O. Box 2622 Bryan, TX 77805-2622.

Driver faces DUI charges after head-on crash with ambulance

A woman faces driving under the influence charges after a head-on crash Thursday involving an ambulance in Weymouth. 

The crash happened at about 5:45 p.m. on Bridge Street. That ambulance was bound for another crash moments earlier, which prosecutors said the suspect was involved in prior to leaving the scene. 

Two ambulance attendants and the driver of the car were taken to South Shore Hospital, Weymouth Deputy Fire Chief Richard Chase said. 

Carolyn Davis

Carolyn Davis

Carolyn Davis, 41, of North Weymouth, faced several charges, including operating under the influence of alcohol, leaving the scene of a crash and negligent operation of a motor vehicle.

Prosecutors said Davis reported having drank five rum and cokes but had nothing to eat all day. 

She was arraigned in her hospital bed Friday afternoon, and a judge set bail at $7,500. 

The victim of the first crash was taken to the hospital for neck and back pain.

There were no patients in the ambulance, Chase said.

Lawmakers weigh changing DWI laws to allow sleeping in cars

Long exposure to capture the full array of police car lights. 12MP camera.

As temperatures drop, state lawmakers are considering changing the laws around one unfortunate approach to a heavy night out: sleeping in a car.

A bill passed by the Senate would carve out exceptions to New Hampshire’s driving while intoxicated laws to allow people who have drunk above the limit to sleep in their cars. Advocates say it’s a necessary change to prevent those trying to sleep off their intoxication do so without fear of being charged by a passing officer. 

But while the idea has caught on in the state senate, where the bill received unanimous approval, House lawmakers are less sure. Some members of the House Transportation Committee have doled out strong skepticism.    

“I don’t want to be overly melodramatic, but we’re playing with persons’ lives here,” said Rep. George Sykes, the committee chairman, at a work session on Tuesday.

Sykes, a Lebanon Democrat, called the bill “replete with problems,” warning that it would give a green light for intoxicated people to sleep for a short period of time and drive home drunk anyway. And he questioned how widespread the problem is to begin with.

“It’s going to take a long time to convince me that we need to monkey with something that may only be a problem for a very small number of persons.”

Senate Bill 34 would amend the definition of “operating” a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol – adding certain exclusions.

“Driving,” “attempting to drive,” or “actual physical control” would not include anyone who is sleeping or sheltering in their car provided the car was parked lawfully; anyone who didn’t have the “intent to control the vehicle in a manner which could pose a danger to the public”; and anyone sitting in a vehicle that is inoperable.

Under the proposed law, as long as someone doesn’t have the “intent” to drive, a passing police officer can’t arrest and charge them, even if the ignition is on. That allows people to turn on the heat while they attempt to sleep off their alcohol, supporters say. 

To Rep. Steven Smith, a Charlestown Republican and former chairman of the committee, the bill would allow those intoxicated to do the right thing without being penalized.

“If they want to go in their car and sleep it off, don’t be behind the wheel,” Smith said. “Be in the back seat, be in the passenger seat. I would think that if I did that, and climbed into the back seat of my car or a pickup truck without a pass-through, I would have established that I did not mean to attempt to drive. And for doing that, I don’t think they should be arresting people.” 

But opponents – who include the New Hampshire Department of Safety, the Association of Chiefs of Police and the Police Association – say that that may be an overly rosy scenario.

Rep. Larry Gagne, a Manchester Republican, painted another one. 

“It puts the onus on the beat cop, out there, three o’clock in the morning in Manchester, windows are cracked and motor’s running, person’s in the back seat. You wake them up: ‘No, no I don’t want to drive, I just wanted to keep warm.’ So it’s on you to make a decision.”

The consequences could be too dear, Gagne added. 

“What happens if you let him go? And that person decides ‘I’m good enough to drive.’ That person takes off and gets into an accident. Hits a telephone pole. And that’s on you. Because you let him go,” Gagne said.

Some on the committee argued the burden should be on the person going out to drink to arrange a better backup scenario, whether through a friend or a cab service. 

Others say more information is needed before the committee can take action. Rep. Nicole Klein-Knight, a freshman Democrat from Manchester, said she wanted to see statistics indicating how many people are arrested for driving while intoxicated despite the vehicle being stationary. 

Existing statistics on DWI convictions in recent years have shown a decline, Klein-Knight said – an indication, she argued, that police officers were not abusing the DWI law. 

“Currently what we’re seeing is a decrease in DUIs – there’s no reason to muck that up with a poorly written law that could increase DUIs, she said. 

Not all Democrats are opposed; Laconia Rep. Charlie St. Clair strongly supports the proposed overhaul.

“Somebody gets in their vehicle, and says, whatever the reason, maybe I’m tired, maybe I think I’ve had too much to drink, whatever, I’m going to be responsible now and sit in my car,” St. Clair said. “If we can craft this to say, you can sit in your car but not behind the driver’s seat, I think they’re showing the responsibility saying ‘I know the law, I’m not going to sit behind the steering wheel’… That should cut it.”

But overall, the political path for the bill looked steep Tuesday. 

“The bill as it’s currently written is something I could never support,” Sykes said. “It’s badly written; it won’t do what it wants to do.”

The political divide fits into a familiar dynamic between the House and Senate. Last year, a similar bill, Senate Bill 499, cleared the Republican Senate 20-4 only to be killed in the Republican House 209-122.

Lawmakers in the committee are working to tweak the language of the bill before making a final decision and passing it to the full House next year.