The family of a 15-year-old Centreville boy who was hit by a car and killed while under the influence of the controversial beverage Four Loko is suing the company that produces it.
John and Karla Rupp, the parents of Bo Rupp, filed the suit against Chicago-based Phusion Projects at a courthouse in Cook County, Ill. on Thursday.
On Sept. 25, 2010, Bo drank two cans of Four Loko in one hour before a concert. The family's suit says that just one can is the equivalent of drinking a six-pack of beer. His parents picked him up at the venue after staff called to alert them that Bo was severely intoxicated.
During the ride home, Bo appeared paranoid and disoriented, and upon returning to their house, Bo took off on foot and his parents lost contact with him after exchanging a string of text messages with him.
Just after 8 p.m., Bo was hit and killed by a car on Pleasant Valley Road in Centreville while running in and out of traffic.
"I hope other parents will talk to their children about this drink,'' Karla Rupp says. "We don't want any other family to go through the sheer terror of losing a child.''
The Rupp's join a chorus of others nationwide claiming that Four Loko is dangerous and marketed toward young people. Their suit alleges that Phusion was careless and negligent in creating a beverage that "desensitizes users to the symptoms of intoxication."
Phusion Project, the maker of the drink, said in a statement, "We are extremely saddened by this tragedy and our thoughts are with the Rupp family. This accident, and others like it, speak to the serious, societal concerns regarding the misuse of alcohol - alcohol abuse and underage drinking are problems we would all like to see discussed and solved."
Four Loko is sold in 23.5-ounce cans with a 12 percent alcohol-by-volume content and is produced in a variety of sweet, fruit flavors. The suit alleges that the brightly colored cans and cheap prices; the drink is usually sold at about $3 per can; make it appealing to underage drinkers.
"Four Loko is so deliberately different," Jeffrey Simon, one of the Rupp's lawyers, says. "It's sweet and fruity and marketed directly at the underage crowd - it is far more dangerous than other drinks."
The suit also names a convenience store in Manassas and companies that manufacture, distribute and package Four Loko.
Bo Rupp was a lacrosse player at Westfield High School in Chantilly.
"I never thought in a million years I'd be speaking about my son's death," Karla Rupp said.