Teen arrested after friend's alcohol death

May 25, 2009 7:51:04 PM PDT
An 18-year-old Orinda man has been arrested after his 16-year-old neighbor collapsed and died at a house party where police say teenagers had been drinking heavily.A boy who threw a party Saturday night while his parents were out of town has been arrested after a boy attending the party died.

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"Joe was not a partying kind of kid, he was a perfect gentleman, very conscientious, thoughtful, not someone you would expect be caught up in anything like this," Miramonte High School track coach Chris Puppione said of 16-year-old Joe Loudon.

Loudon, a star sprinter, collapsed at an Orinda house party Saturday night and later died.

According to Orinda police, Loudon collapsed during a night of drinking at a neighbor's party that was thrown while the friend's parents were out of town.

The partygoers called police after finding Loudon on the floor in a hallway.

"There was a large juvenile party there; he was found on the floor unconscious," Orinda Police Chief Bill French said.

Police found a beer keg and hard liquor at the party and arrested the host, 18-year-old Patrick Gabrielli. Gabrielli has been charged with giving alcohol to a minor and was released on bail.

Police say others may face charges once investigators trace the source of the alcohol.

Police believe alcohol played a role in Loudon's death, but until an autopsy is completed, they will not know if it was the only factor.

"Among the kids who do drink, a large majority of them do drink heavily and get intoxicated," Joel Grube of the Prevention Research Center said.

The autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday; the same day Loudon's track teammates plan to wear their green warm-up jackets to school as a tribute to him.

"Something like this happens, there's always the questions what if, or what could've been, but in reflecting on the 16 years Joe had, he made every minute of it, so rather than say, 'what if,' we can say, 'look what we had,'" Puppione said.

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