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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

James Plummeted To His Death From A Fifth-floor Hotel Balcony In Panama City

Spring break in the United States is a time when parents allow their children to spread their wings a little bit. Annual pilgrimages of young people to places like Panama City, Florida make for a week of constant partying with alcohol and drugs. There simply are not enough adults to supervise the seventeen and eighteen year-olds running wild during spring break; there are many parents who believe that young adults should have the opportunity to party a little with their friends, kind of a rite of passage. Unfortunately, tragedy often accompanies parties where underage drinking goes unchecked; seniors in high school who are about to head off to college in the fall, tend to have the idea that they are invincible and with that comes bad decision making.

Matt James, a Notre Dame bound high school football star, was one of those kids that tragedy befell this Spring Break. James plummeted to his death from a fifth-floor hotel balcony in Panama City. "The people in the room next to him were trying to help calm him down from a state of belligerence. He leaned over the balcony rail and in just a matter of seconds as he was leaning over to shake his finger at these people and talk to them he just went over the side", according to deputy police chief Major David Humphreys. Balconies are extremely dangerous especially when alcohol is thrown into the mix, every year teenagers and adults fall off of balconies despite railings being up to code.

None of the kids partying with James that night have come forward with the name of the person who purchased the alcohol for the minors; there were chaperons around at the time of the accident. According to the AP, James was with a group of about 40 young people and six parents; but, none of the parents were in the room at the time of the fall which has many people wondering, "just exactly where were the chaperons"? Police are trying to figure out who purchased the alcohol so that charges can be brought up. There is a good chance that no one will come forward and this kind of activity will continue in spring break party cities.

James' fall was the fourth balcony accident this year in Panama City and it was the second fatality. The other death this year was Brandon Kohler, from Winder, Georgia; Kohler fell from a different hotel balcony on March 24 and alcohol was involved in the accident according to Kohler's friends. Sadly, as long as parents believe that it is safe to let their kids run wild with alcohol for a week in a foreign city, James and Kohler's death will probably not be the last death like this in 2010.

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