Two minors to be charged in party preceding fatality

Investigation of car crash finds no probable cause to prosecute any adults

June 15, 1999|By Chris Guy | Chris Guy,SUN STAFF

Worcester County prosecutors say they will charge two juveniles with selling alcohol without a license and providing alcohol to a minor. The action concludes a two-week investigation into a car crash June 2 that killed a 20-year-old Ocean City man who witnesses say had attended an underage drinking party at the waterfront farm of a prominent resort businessman.

The youths, who were not identified, were expected to surrender to juvenile justice officials in Ocean City yesterday. Authorities have 25 days to decide whether the pair will go before a Juvenile Court judge.

Joel J. Todd, Worcester state's attorney, said yesterday that police investigators had failed to turn up probable cause that any adults had committed a crime in connection with the party held at the 650-acre horse farm owned by Hale Harrison.

Todd said investigators are continuing to look into who provided kegs of beer, grain alcohol and other drinks to the youths.

"We never close the door on potential criminal liability," Todd said. "If it comes to our attention that there is new evidence not uncovered in the original investigation, we'll re-evaluate."

Robert E. Krieger Jr., who worked as a mate on an Ocean City charter fishing boat, smashed through an ornate, 8-foot gate at the property in his 1999 Dodge pickup about 1 a.m. June 2, nearly running down Harrison before speeding north and crashing about four miles from the farm.

Friends said Krieger had been drinking heavily. An autopsy revealed that Krieger's blood alcohol level was 0.13, above the 0.10 level that state law defines as driving while intoxicated.

"I'm not saying my son didn't make a mistake, but I'm not satisfied we know everything that happened that night," said Robert E. Krieger Sr. "I hope they investigate further, find more evidence. I'm disappointed."

Partygoers said kegs of beer and punch made with grain alcohol were served by an underage bartender who charged $5 and stamped the hands of drinkers on the second floor of the main house at the sprawling farm.

Harrison refused to comment yesterday. Last week, he acknowledged that he allowed his 17-year-old son, George Hale Harrison, to hold a party at the farm, about five miles outside Ocean City.

The elder Harrison said he twice checked the main house on the property and that he saw no alcohol. Harrison said he stood at the gate at the end of his property, monitoring each car that left, which he was attempting to do when Krieger destroyed the wooden gate, forcing Harrison to jump clear of the speeding pickup truck.

Patricia Topping, who is the county's juvenile justice administrator, said yesterday that the case will be reviewed, then handled administratively or sent to a Juvenile Court judge. The judge could dismiss the case or choose from a range of options -- from community service, drug and alcohol counseling to supervised probation or commitment to a group home or juvenile detention facility.

Pub Date: 6/15/99

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