Parents say underage drinking growing problem

By: Melissa Tune Email
By: Melissa Tune Email

HARLEM, Ga.---A deadly wreck over the weekend in Columbia County killed two young people. It happened around 3 o'clock Sunday morning on Harlem-Grovetown Road.

Driver Brandon Newman ran off the road and hit a tree. The impact killed his brother, Cameron Newman, and passenger Mallory Jason.

The driver and a 16-year old girl were thrown out and went to the hospital.

Columbia County investigators are looking into whether alcohol was involved in that fatal crash.

It's routine to look at all factors that could have come into play, and investigators say it could be weeks before it's determined.

But some parents in Columbia and Richmond County say that regardless, underage drinking is a big problem.

Two of the people riding in the car, 16-year-old Sara Boykin and 19-year-old Mallory Jason, were both under the age of 21.

They weren't driving, and we don't know yet if they had been drinking, but parents in the area say it could have been easy for either of them to get access to beer and wine, and that's a problem.

"You always, always heard great things about this girl," said Paula Toole whose daughter Katie was friends with Mallory Jason. "Her parents are wonderful people."

Paula says that hearing of Mallory's death has been shocking and difficult.

"It's probably some of the hardest news (Katie's) ever had to hear," Paula said. "You often think when your child leaves home: are they going to come back?"

Columbia County investigators are looking into all possibilities of how and why the accident happened.

As of right now, they're not saying if alcohol was involved, but Paula says teens in the area are faced with the peer pressure of drinking each day.

"(Katie) tells me all the time about her friends who are caught up in drinking and partying. They just want to live life on the edge, and she's very concerned for them," Paula said. "You never know what's going to be happening at someone else's home, but ultimately it's the parents responsibility."

"This is an ongoing thing out in that community with all these kids out there drinking with these high school kids," said Terry Self.

Terry and his wife are trying to take responsibility for their daughter. Last Saturday night, she was at a party where her father says there were at least 11 underage teens drinking, including his 16-year-old daughter.

On Sunday morning he called the Richmond County and Columbia County authorities because he wanted them to know that there were adults providing booze. There's proof of that, he says, on many of the teenagers' MySpace accounts. He says that he called in the sheriff's departments because he wants to save a teen's life--and maybe his own.

"Our child could have been in that vehicle," he said. "Eleven kids could have died of alcohol poisoning, and they probably wouldn't have known about it right now."

"You don't always want to believe what you hear, especially when it's about your own child, and it took Sunday morning to open our eyes up that this is happening," he went on.

Terry says that he has a list of names of teenagers who were at that party on Saturday night, and he's planning on talking to their parents.

In the meantime he's going to talk to the Richmond County Sheriff's Department again, in hopes that they will do something to crack down on the underage drinking.

He says he's already provided names and won't stop until something is done.

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  • by Anonymous on May 24, 2007 at 07:41 PM
    This is to Chasity and any other naive person out there who belives this had nothing to do with did! I know them personally too and Yes they drank, often. Most kids in Augusta do. I'll admit, I did when I was under 21. The real message should be DON'T DRIVE...Stay where you are! Just because we don't like it that underage kids are drinking doesn't mean they are going to stop. They will find a way to do it. Parents should be open enough and understanding so that if their child needs them to, they wan't be scared to call and ask to be picked up. If you don't want them to drink then stop letting your kids go out and do whatever they want without any rules! Stop worrying about whether or not your kids have the best car, or coolest clothes, and start worrying about where they are and who they are hangin out with.
  • by Holly Location: Augusta on May 23, 2007 at 10:22 PM
    I think Terry Self.. needs to take control of him own daughter who drink every weekend before he sticks his nose into other teenagers lives!
  • by Anonymous on May 17, 2007 at 06:04 PM
    Who lets their 15/16 year old daughter hang out with a 24 year old? Someone should investigate that.
  • by Amy Location: North Augusta on May 17, 2007 at 03:28 PM
    This hype about the underage drinking has gone too far. The adults are all concerned now because it’s fresh on their mind, but it will be forgotten when all of the news stories die down. In the meantime, there are a lot of people suffering a huge loss and it is being overshadowed by speculation. These were good kids who are gone now and people who didn’t know them will remember them as “those drunk kids killed in the wreck”. The media needs to quit using this speculation to turn a tragedy into “tonight’s top story” because they can’t find anything else to report on.
  • by Tabatha Location: Augusta on May 16, 2007 at 07:07 PM
    i knew all 4 of them
  • by charlie Location: evans on May 16, 2007 at 06:35 PM
    i wouldnt blame it on the parents and say you should talk to your kids because my parents talked to me about drinking and drugs but i still did it no i am not proud of it but a teenager is gonna do what they want to do no matter how many times you tell them its wrong
  • by Tom Location: Evans on May 16, 2007 at 02:07 PM
    Amanda, I hope you are right that alcohol was not involved, however that is not what I am hearing. Also, some parents need to be held liable for their children's underage drinking.
  • by sherry Location: columbia on May 16, 2007 at 01:39 PM
    I'm sorry for their loss, but remember it starts at home w/the parents.......teens will be teens! The police can only do so much!! TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN and pray they make the right choices!!
  • by Chasity Location: Grovetown on May 16, 2007 at 12:34 PM
    The cause of the accident was not alcohol related and i take great offense to everyone just assuming it was. I knew these kids personally. The roads were wet and thats it. Its a freak accident not some out of control drunk teenager.
  • by Ashley Location: augusta on May 16, 2007 at 08:27 AM
    I know parents worry but if your child wants to drink they will find a way to get it. I dont think its right to point fingers after an accident like this. You guys dont think that the wet roads had anything to do with it too. I dont agree with drinking and driving but I do know that I was a kid once and if I wanted alcohol it wasnt hard to find.
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