Bay Area Briefs

Friday October 11, 2002

Date-rape coasters hot item 

SAN JOSE — Colleges around the country are buying millions of coasters that test for “date-rape” drugs in drinks. But some experts say the coasters are ineffective and could lead to more assaults by creating a false sense of security. 

The manufacturers — who also make fake snow and party foam — say the 40-cent paper coasters are 95 percent accurate. 

The coasters have test spots that are supposed to turn dark blue in about 30 seconds if a splash of alcohol contains drugs often used to incapacitate victims. 

In tests at the Michigan State Police Crime Lab, however, the coasters failed to react clearly to drinks spiked with gamma hydroxybutyrate, a major date-rape drug known as GHB, said forensic scientist Anne Gierlowski. 

“We tested red wine, cola, whiskey and orange juice and because three out of the four have color already, it was very hard to decipher a color change,” she said. 

Plantation, Fla.-based Drink Safe Technologies Inc. has sold about 50 million of the coasters since March.. 


Murder charge follows crash 

MOSS BEACH – A Foster City man who drove his family off a 150-foot cliff on the San Mateo County coast Sunday has been booked on three charges of murder, authorities said this morning. 

Eddie Rapoza, 35, was arrested after investigators determined that the van he was driving was deliberately driven off a Moss Beach cliff, according to San Mateo County Sheriff's Office spokesman Bronwyn Hogan. His pregnant wife, Raye Rapoza, 34, died at the scene. 

Their daughter, 4-year-old Tehani Rapoza, succumbed to her injuries at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Monday.  

“After reviewing the evidence at the scene , and thoroughly inspecting the vehicle for mechanical problems, we have determined that this was a deliberate act,'' Hogan said. 

Authorities say Eddie Rapoza was traveling at a high rate of speed when at about 9:15 Sunday morning he drove the family minivan down Bernal Avenue, through 25 feet of shoulder vegetation and off the cliff. 

There were no signs of braking.