The father of a Bethesda high school senior who died after a party where underage drinking occurred is taking his grief public as he seeks answers.
The 17-year-old was attending a party at the home of an Austrian diplomat on Saturday, Dec. 9, when police received a 911 call reporting underage drinking. When they arrived to break up the gathering, a number of partygoers ran away.
However, the teen, who was discovered dead the next day by his father, was stopped and questioned by police. According to the young man’s father, the officers let him go, along with some other young people who also attended the gathering. Witnesses said that the underage teen was clearly intoxicated at the time of his interaction with law enforcement.
When the young man hadn’t returned home the following morning, his father went to the home where the party was held to find out what happened. He says police helped him search for awhile, but then gave up. The concerned father continued searching on his own until he found his son’s body later that day in a shallow stream behind a swim club.
Montgomery County Police say that, although they don’t suspect foul play, their Major Crimes Division is investigating the teen’s death. Police released a detailed statement of law enforcement’s involvement in the events that preceded the teen’s death.
Allegedly, when officers arrived at the home, the homeowners said they broke up the party when they discovered that older teens had brought alcohol. Those teens reportedly heard about the gathering on social media. The homeowners said they told the uninvited guests to leave and to call their parents to pick them up.
Police also said that they determined after walking through the home and outside that the party had, in fact, disbanded.
According to police, the young man and the others with whom they spoke told them that their parents were on their way to get them. Although officers suspected the 17-year-old was under the influence, they had no grounds to hold him or the others. There was no mention of seeing the vodka that was later reportedly found on the teen’s body.
While no one wants their child arrested for underage drinking, it’s a much preferable option than this worst-case scenario, which this teen’s father describes as “the biggest disaster of my life.”
Source: WUSA 9, “Father demands answers after teen dies following underage drinking party,” Scott Brown, Dec. 12, 2017