By MIKE MORRIS
Calaveras County sheriff's investigators now say they can prove that adults served alcohol to minors during a Murphys birthday party the night of Aug. 5, just before a fatal car accident involving two of the party-goers.
Sheriff's Department officials sent an initial report to the district attorney's office in late August with evidence they said shows several adults gave beer to minors.
But District Attorney Jeff Tuttle said more information was needed for his office to file charges.
So investigators interviewed more people who were at the party, and spoke with the parents of the boy who turned 17 that evening.
"We feel we have the information (Tuttle) asked for," Sheriff's Capt. Mike Walker said.
What authorities can't prove, however, is that adults gave alcohol to Zachary Airola, 18, and his friend George Langston shortly before they were involved in a fatal wreck that night.
Langston, 19, died after Airola crashed his pickup into an oak tree on Highway 4 near Vallecito. Airola and Langston attended the party, but Walker said there's no proof the pair drank there.
Airola's blood-alcohol level the night of the crash was .18 more than twice the legal adult limit, investigators said. Minors have a zero-threshold for blood-alcohol levels they aren't allowed to drink at all.
Walker said sheriff's investigators have been unable to find out how the Angels Camp teens got their hands on alcohol that night.
But "the fact remains that alcohol was served to minors" at the Murphys party, Walker said.
A Calaveras County Sheriff's deputy was called to a party on Pennsylvania Gulch Road the night of Aug. 5. The party's hostess, a 29-year-old woman, admitted she bought a keg of beer and allowed minors to drink at her home, according to an August press release.
A sheriff's investigator interviewed people at the party and collected a sales receipt for the keg of beer. The case was then sent to the District Attorney's Office for a complaint of contributing to the delinquency of minors and furnishing alcohol to minors.