Parents warn of underage drinking dangers after daughter's death

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Michelle Brakefield described the pain as unimaginable.

Two days after Christmas last year, officials said her 16-year-old daughter Shelby Brakefield died of acute alcohol poisoning.

(Shelby Brakefield)

Kelly Nicole Hedrick, 28, was charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with her death.

Officials said Hedrick bought three bottles of vodka for three teen girls, including Shelby. The next day, her friends reportedly found her dead when they woke up.

“Finding Shelby dead in her bedroom is an image that I will never get out of my head,” her mother said.  “I will live with that image for the rest of my life.”

(Michelle and Greg Brakefield)

Shelby’s loved ones and closest friends gathered Monday at her gravesite, hoping to gain closure and to celebrate her life. They watched Shelby’s headstone be placed at the edge of her grave.

During the service, her mother also shared a special message with the group, warning of the permanent consequences of underage drinking, particularly in the midst of prom season.

“She never intended for her teenage decision to take her from us,” her mother said.

“Alcohol poisoning is real,” her father, Greg Brakefield, said. “Unfortunately, we found out that it's all too real.”

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