A Montgomery County police spokesman said Monday that criminal charges could be brought against any adult found responsible for an underage drinking party Thursday night at a North Potomac home attended by two teenagers who died later that night in a car crash.
Spokesman Rick Goodale said police are continuing to investigate the party, which police believe four young men attended before the single-car collision on Dunfief Mill Road that killed Calvin Jia-Xing Li, 18, of Rockville and Alexander Murk, 18, of Potomac. Sam Ellis, the driver and former star quarterback at Thomas S. Wootton High School, suffered life-threatening injuries; police did not have an update on his condition Monday. A 17-year-old boy, whom police have not identified, suffered minor injuries in the collision.
Goodale said charges could be brought if an adult was present and aware of the house party and failed to stop it, and if an adult supplied underage individuals with alcohol.
Under Maryland’s “adult responsibility law,” adults present at an underage drinking party can be fined or charged with criminal negligence if someone is killed or injured after leaving the party. Also, civil suits can brought under the law against adult hosts by the families of victims.
Goodale said police are still investigating if any adults can be charged in the case.
He also said Ellis, as the driver, could also face charges. Goodale said police are waiting for toxicology reports to be completed to determine if Ellis was intoxicated at the time of the collision. If he had been drinking, Ellis could face charges related to driving under the influence of alcohol or manslaughter, according to Goodale.
He said Ellis’ injuries prohibited police from administrating a Breathalyzer test before he was admitted to the hospital.
On Sunday evening, hundreds gathered at the scene of the crash across from Travilah Elementary School on Dunfief Mill Road for a vigil to remember the victims.
At a news conference Friday, county police Capt. Tom Didone said the car driven by Ellis was traveling at a high rate of speed when it struck a tree and a fence and then came to rest upside down in the driveway of a nearby residence.
Didone called the collision “an underage drinking tragedy.” He said speed was a factor and that the two backseat occupants of the car—Li and Murk—were not wearing seatbelts. He added that alcoholic beverages were found in the vehicle.
“These tragedies will continue until we stop enabling underage drinking,” Didone said.
Didone also said that citations were issued in relation to the North Potomac party and that an adult was present when police arrived, although the party was over at that time.
“We’re still investigating the facts and circumstances [as] to the adults’ activity at the party,” Didone said. “We are known for being very aggressive in trying to conduct enforcement in underage drinking, mostly to prevent these tragedies.”