Many Indiana students unaware of state's Lifeline law

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Nothing says the first home football game at Indiana University like thousands of students tailgating.

"First tailgate of the season. It's a great time," said IU sophomore Nick Gibson.

That's what Gibson and thousands of other IU students and alumni did Thursday night before IU's home opener against Indiana State.

One student who never got the chance to be there, though, was incoming IU freshman nursing student, 19-year-old Rachael Fiege from Zionsville.

"Just that smiling face. I called her 'Rachey.' She brightened up your day for sure," said Rachael's father, Rick Fiege.

Rachael will be buried this Saturday, a week after she passed away after falling down steps at an off-campus party, suffering a catastrophic brain injury.

Rachael's friends waited six hours to call 911, when they realized she was unconscious.

"They're 17, 18, 20 years old. They're not thinking that. They're not even remotely wired to think that way," said Rick Fiege in discussing Indiana's Lifeline Law.

Passed three years ago, it allows minors who've been drinking to call 911 if someone needs help, without fear of getting in trouble for underage drinking.

Most students Eyewitness News asked on campus Thursday afternoon said they didn't know about the law. We also spoke with Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis), author of the law, if it was working.

"I believe the law is working if people know about it," said Sen. Merritt.

Sen. Merritt knows he needs help getting the word out on the law. If you make the call, get help and save a life, you get immunity.

"I don't think anyone knows about it. I think it's still pretty new," said Hayley McLoud, student.

"I've heard some people, I've heard other people talk about it through word of mouth so that's not bad," said student Aubrey Carter.

"My professor was talking about it in class. I think a lot of professors are starting to bring up that law," said IU junior George Chronis.

"They've really been pushing it on Twitter and Facebook," added IU sophomore Steve Garcia.

Big Red Liquors, who has several stores on campus - and 49 stores statewide - also wants to get the word out about the law.

"It's a common sense law. It's something we hope will protect some people," said Matt Colglazier with Big Red Liquors.

That's why the business hung posters in shop windows and handed out fliers to customers explaining the Lifeline Law.

"Tonight's a football game. If it's one person that's more conscientious at a party, then we can make a difference," explained Colglazier.

Customers seemed okay with it.

"I didn't know that was what it was called but I still think it's a great idea, especially since I am a student here. There have been times when the situation where someone should have called a paramedic and no one wants to make that call. That decision. They think they will be on the line for it," said Storm Anderson, IU student.

Now Big Red Liquors is working to get other stores to help spread the word as well.

Student Megan Smith already knew about the Lifeline law, but she was the exception. One IU professor said he asked one of his classes about it, and just one out of 19 students knew what it was.

Indiana University is also looking at ways to beef up its marketing to students, especially freshmen, about the Lifeline law.

If students hadn't heard about the Lifeline Law before, in the wake of Fiege's death, they're hearing about it now at IU.

"All of our walls in the dorm, make sure people know about the Lifeline Law," said Gibson.

Funeral services for Rachael Fiege will be held Friday in Zionsville.