Tuesday Oct 30 2012 12:28 PM
An underage drinking party last Saturday night (Oct. 27) in the Bonney Lake area resulted in the arrests of 18 youths for minor in possession of alcohol.
The youths, primarily 17- and 18-year-olds from Fife, were reported by a neighbor who called 911 after hearing a lot of noise and seeing many young drivers pull up to the Inlet Island home. Fourteen other high school students were released after it was determined they had not been drinking. Others escaped before police could obtain a warrant to enter the premises.
Law enforcement officers said the owner of the residence had moved and left her 19-year-old son behind to reside in the house. In addition to being a minor in possession of alcohol, he was arrested and charged with providing his residence for illegal drinking.
Three of the arrested teenagers were ill and vomiting while police conducted field sobriety tests, processed the scene and arrested the youth. Fortunately, none of the party-goers required hospitalization for alcohol poisoning as was the case when a similar party was shut down in the area last year.
"The home, void of furniture and possessions except for beer, hard liquor and a beer pong table, was typical of homes used frequently for teen booze bashes," said Sumner Police Sgt. Matt Kurle, one of the supervisors of the multi-agency effort to curb underage drinking in Pierce County.
Along with a youth who was a passenger in a car and arrested for minor in possession by officers working a DUI patrol in the area, all 18 students were brought to a community center. Chemical dependency professionals and community volunteers provided the teens and their parents with resources to ensure the youth make choices that better serve them in the future.
"When we started the Party Intervention Patrol project in Pierce County nearly five years ago, the county was headquarters for a lot of underage booze fests," said Puyallup Police Sgt. Bob Thompson. "We couldn't begin to get to them all. But now we find far fewer parties."
The countywide enforcement, along with the volunteer and professional support provided to the kids and their parents on the night of the parties, has resulted in a reduction of more than 60 percent in teen impaired-driving fatalities in the county.
Drinking drivers aged 15 to 20 are twice as likely to be involved in a fatal crash as drinking drivers 21 and over. Before the lifesaving project was begun in Pierce County, an average of 12 to 15 young drivers died each year on the roadways. Over the past two years, one teen has died.
The Party Intervention Patrol is administered by the Puyallup Police Department and the Tacoma Pierce County DUI and Traffic Safety Task Force, which is coordinated by the Pierce County Department of Community Connections. The project is funded by the Washington Impaired Driving Council.
MEDIA CONTACT: Gloria Mansfield Averill, Tacoma Pierce County DUI and Traffic Safety Task Force, Pierce County Community Connections253-222-9088 (cell)