Local News

Wakefield Parent Seeks Changes in Law After Student's Death

Posted January 28, 2007
Updated January 31, 2007

— Two weeks since a car crash killed a Wakefield High student, one parent wants the law expanded to make parents more accountable.

Fellow students said Sadiki Young and his two friends were at an unsupervised party where teens were drinking before Young’s death. The 18-year-old driver of the car, Christopher John Palmeri, survived and now faces involuntary manslaughter charges. Although investigators said speed caused the wreck, alcohol was found in the driver’s bloodstream.

Wakefield students and parents said parties like the one that Young, Palmeri and another teen attended happen almost every weekend, and sometimes they’re supervised by adults.

“It struck me as, ‘How are they getting alcohol, and where are they drinking it?’” said Wakefield High parent Len Anthony. “Parents are staying home and basically hosting or giving children the opportunity to come into their home and drink.”

Anthony is also a corporate attorney. He's pushing to make it illegal for parents to host parties attended by underage drinkers.

Under current North Carolina law, it’s illegal for anyone to sell or give alcohol to those under 21.
According to several Wakefield High students and parents, parents are not the ones providing alcohol to teens at the reported house parties, but they provide a place for them to drink.

Anthony said even allowing teens to drink in the home should be a crime that could carry hefty fines and possible jail time. State Sen. Neal Hunt, R-Wake, said he’s thinking about sponsoring an amendment to the current law that Anthony wrote.

“If there is a gap there, it may be something we need,” Hunt said.

This is not the first time that drinking has led to tragedy for Wakefield High students. Last March, Baker Wood, 18; Anthony Bostic, 17; Steven George, 18; and Timothy Steinberg, 18, were returning from a championship high-school basketball game in Greenville when, according to police, Wood hit a concrete barrier on the Poole Road exit and crashed nearly 60 feet to the ground. All four teens were killed.

Wood was driving at more than 100 mph, police said. A medical examiner's report showed he had a blood-alcohol level of 0.21 percent -- more than twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent for adult drivers.

Wakefield's Parent Teacher Student Association president Saundra Freeman said she also thinks there needs to be more parent involvement.

“We're open to all ideas, and we recognize even more that we've got to get the parents' attention,” Freeman said.

Anthony said that tougher laws might be the only thing that will make parents and teachers to take notice.

“My goal is, if you won't learn the lesson because it's the right thing to do, maybe you'll learn a lesson because there's a pretty severe consequence for not doing the right thing,” he said.

A defense attorney told WRAL that he thinks it would be easy to prosecute parents if they are home during a party where underage drinking takes place. But he also said it becomes more difficult to hold them liable if they aren't there and didn't provide the alcohol.

Within the last two years, other states have passed laws specific to adults who let children drink in their homes. In Rhode Island, a first violation carries a fine up to $1,000 and up to six months in prison. And in Wyoming, it's a misdemeanor crime for anyone to allow an open house party in which alcohol or illegal drugs are consumed by minors.

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  • tarheelblue919 Jan 31, 2007

    parents need to be parents!!! but also, you cant stay under your kids all the time especially when they start going out with friends. you teach them right from wrong, you stick to your guns, let them know that they WILL be punished for their actions and there are consequences and when its said and done they must fly with those wings mom and dad gave them....but heres a thought---let the kids go to the morgue where their peers are in body bags, cold, and slide them from that rolling drawer and let them physically SEE, that a drink and a set of keys WILL kill you. i promise they will be MORE touched and moved then just setting some flowers on the curb of the highway...

  • beachdreaming2000 Jan 30, 2007

    Do any of you know what Wakefield really is? The Wakefield Community was build by private citizens who were sick of the regular public school systems and having to go to Raleigh to shop. So, rich folks got together and started building thier own city. It all started because some rich folks were sick of putting up with the rest of us. Now you see how all of these rich Wakefield kids are - they think they are above dicipline and rules. Does anyone know how many of the Wakefield area kids have been killed in the past 5 years? And why?

  • kevin4unc Jan 29, 2007

    Drink a little beer. Do a little driving. Dig a little hole. Drop a little body. Tick, Tick, Tick the clock is ticking on Wakefield and these idiots and their parents.

  • machaney41 Jan 29, 2007

    I'm 20 years old. I work a full time job, am putting myself through school, and live alone. Occasionally I drink. So freaking what. Most of you "adults" think you know what is best, but the problem isn't the drinking. The problem is being responsible. Look at where all these drinking & driving deaths are coming from. Wakefield, where mommy & daddy buy their kids whatever they want and get them out of whatever trouble they get in. I bet if you made those kids get jobs, get up at six in the morning to be at work on the weekends to buy their own cars and pay their own tickets they might learn a little bit of responsibility. As for changing the law, a parent that allows their children to drink SUPERVISED is much better than a parent who lets their children run all over the state in his 50 thousand dollar car drinking. But if you want to solve the problem, lower the drinking age to 18, or raise the voting age to 21, as we didn't do a good job at the last election

  • nursevb8 Jan 29, 2007

    A parent should not be held accountable if they are not home, then the "child" should be blamed. Parents thenk they are keeping "their" child safe by allowing them to drink at home, but they are causing terrible harm to the other kids who drink then leave and drive. True, kids will drink outdoors too. Maybe law enforcement needs to crack down on some of these little convenient stores, kids have to be getting it somewhere and this is where you can just about bet on it. Kids, you want to be treated like adults, then it's time to take responsibility of an adult.

  • eyesonly4you27525 Jan 29, 2007

    What is wrong with you people???? "Well, I let my kids drink at home so that I know where they are and what they are doing". Why can't you parents be parents? The law says 21. Why can't you say 21????? Kids are not adults, but you are letting them partake of an ADULT activity. Frpajebr, if more parents had your mentality, then we would not hear about these tragic events every single day. Sure, it would still happen occasionally, but not to the extent it is now. As it has been stated before, STOP TRYING TO BE YOUR KIDS' BEST FRIENDS AND BE A PARENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Or are you that lazy in taking responsiblity for raising your children? And let's remember, THEY ARE CHILDREN!

  • MoMoneyMoMoneyBoMoney Jan 29, 2007

    $$$$$ Ka'ching! Our Government,along with the alcohol industry reaps enormous profits from alcohol addiction.The opportunity for lifelong revenues off each individual consumer greatly improves if they begin drinking before the age of 21.Chances are greater that they will continue to drink into their adult years.The federal government warns us about almost every product that exposes consumers to risks.but not alcohol.Alcohol is poison,even in small amounts and it is very toxic to the human body and consuming it can result in acute alcohol poisoning and death.Those are not health risks.Those are life threatening facts.The threshold for alcohol overdose is very low and very different from person to person.Recently there has been a big push to ban trans-fats from our food beacuse they are "harmful",too bad they don't feel the same way about booze,I can't think of one death related to an overdose of hamburgers or driving under the influence of french fries.

  • areyes Jan 29, 2007

    OK, let's be realistic about this. Young people should be accountable for their actions, but so should the parents or adults that contribute to the problem. I think that any parent or owner of a property that hosts a party where minors participate needs to be held accountable if there is alcohol consumption by minors because of lack of supervision. I also believe that it is a parents right to allow their children to consume alcohol in their own home as long as they are responsible about it. What I am talking about is something like a parent that allows a minor to have a glass of wine with dinner on a special occasion. I also believe that a parent that is aware that his/her child abuses alcohol and does not discipline the minor should be held responsible for any thing is the result of that alcohol abuse.

  • Panther Jan 29, 2007

    Teenagers drink because its taboo or against the law, some drink just to experiment with alcohol. One of the biggest problems is our own laws. The more you make it illegal the more the teens will want it. Growing up, my parents always had wine on the table. If you wanted some just pour a glass of it. We learned as young children what would happen if we abused it. As I grew into a teenager my Father would tell us, if you want to drink, do it here and don’t drive! He didn’t care if we had friends over, I can remember many Friday evens we would drink alcohol and watch a movie, rarely one person got stupid and Mom would prepare a spare bed for them. This way my parents knew where we were and what we were doing. Kind of a novel idea hu?

  • gi4mji2l Jan 29, 2007

    Unfortunately, it takes a tragedy to bring change. I support parents that encourage a "safe haven" for their children to socialize and party by opening their homes. Our kids need to know that they are safe. My prayers to the families of the young people that have been a victim of alcohol and its side effects. If we require Bars and Clubs to be accountable for persons that leave their establishments and encounter unfortunate situations, then Parents need to realize that they are accountable when alcohol is consumed at their homes. Alcohol, guns, drugs in the home is dangerous when teens or any child is in the home. And to be unsupervised, is an invitation for curiousity. To the families, stay strong through this ordeal and we need to re-establish society acceptable boundaries and not socially acceptable boundaries.