Local News

Wakefield High Students Charged After Classmate Killed in Crash

Posted March 9, 2007 9:06 a.m. EST
Updated August 16, 2007 2:32 p.m. EDT

— Five Wakefield High School students and an adult were charged Friday in connection with an alcohol-related crash that killed a Wakefield student two months ago.

Sadiki Young, 18, died Jan. 13 when the car in which he was riding went off Wakefield Plantation Drive and tumbled down an embankment.

The driver of the car, Christopher John Palmeri, 18, of High Holly Lane, is charged with involuntary manslaughter and drunken driving in connection with the wreck.

At the time of the accident, Palmeri's blood-alcohol content was .06, police said. Although that is below the legal limit for adults, Palmieri is underage and thus should not have had any alcohol in his system while driving, police said.

Police said the car was traveling about 70 mph when the accident happened. Students and parents told WRAL that Palmeri, Young and another student in the car had been at an unsupervised house party before the wreck.

The following people were charged Friday:

  • Sharra McNamara, 25, of 147 Newton Road, was charged with knowingly permitting someone to use her driver's license.
  • Dylan Caldwell, 17, of 6604 Professor Court, was charged with having no operator's license and with restrict, delay and obstruct (a legal charge for hindering police).
  • Lisa Conicelli, 17, of 6568 Wakefalls Drive in Wake Forest, was charged with underage possession of alcohol, aiding and abetting underage possession of alcohol and restrict, delay and obstruct.
  • Dylan Richard, 18, 2015 Falls River Ave., was charged with underage purchase of alcohol and aiding and abetting underage possession of alcohol.
  • Jordan Birden, 17, of 12339 Honeychurch St., was charged with underage purchase of alcohol and aiding and abetting underage possession of alcohol.
  • Megan Clifford was charged with aiding and abetting underage purchase of alcohol, purchase of alcohol and using a fake identification.

Four students were arrested at Wakefield High Friday morning in front of other students and teachers, police said, and Clifford was arrested Friday afternoon.

Police said Conicelli hosted a party attended by several teens, including Palmeri and Young. When she learned of the fatal wreck, police said, she tried to clean up evidence of the party and then hid upstairs when officers knocked on her front door.

Conicelli's parents were out of town at the time and won't face charges in connection with the party, police said.

After the wreck, Caldwell picked up a third teen who was in Palmeri's car and drove off without calling 911, police said.

"It definitely disturbs me that they took these steps to try to conceal what they were doing. They knew it was wrong, but they still went ahead with their actions," said Jeff Lasater, spokesman for the state Division of Alcohol Law Enforcement.

Bill Young, Richard's lawyer, downplayed the charges, which are all misdemeanors.

"These are very minor charges related simply to kids giving kids beer, which unfortunately, right or wrong, if you believe it should happen or not, happens every day," Young said.

Young's death came 10 months after four other Wakefield High students were killed in an alcohol-related crash.

A car driven by 18-year-old Baker Wood plunged off the U.S. Highway 64 Bypass and burst into flames on March 4, 2006. Police said the car was going more than 100 mph when it crashed.

A medical examiner's report showed Wood and front-seat passenger Steven George were drunk. The other two passengers, Timothy Steinberg and Anthony Bostic, didn't have alcohol in their systems, according to toxicology reports.

The deaths have galvanized Wakefield High administrators and parents, who have held alcohol-education programs to raise awareness among students about the dangers of underage drinking and drinking and driving.

"We addressing these issues and giving teachers and students and parents a forum to discuss how we as a community can stop this type of activity, how we can band together," said Sandy Gasper, a member of the school PTSA's Character Education Committee.

"It's hitting home," Gasper said. "To see statistics and to hear about it is one thing, but to actually experience it and to know and have your classmates be involved, it's pretty powerful. I do think they stop to think, and that's what we're trying (to get them) to do."