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14 arrested for underage drinking at Buford party
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Hall County schools spokesman Gordon Higgins comments on underage drinking arrests that involved some student-athletes.

Two Buford residents have been charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and keeping a disorderly house after 14 teenagers were arrested for underage drinking at their home early Sunday morning.

Responding to complaints of loud music in the Morgan Crossing subdivision, Hall County Sheriff’s deputies discovered about 20 teenagers at a party on the 4000 block of Carters Lake Drive with several different brands of beer and several bottles of liquor in the basement, said Maj. Jeff Strickland with the Hall County Sheriff’s Office.

When Hall County deputies approached the Buford home of Mark and Susan Eldridge, several people ran from the house, but 21 teenagers and the owners of the home were taken to the Hall County Jail and given a sobriety test, according to Strickland.

While five of the teenagers were released to their parents, 14 were charged with underage drinking. The results of the sobriety tests were not released.

Mark Eldridge, 50, and Susan Elizabeth Eldridge, 48, were charged with keeping a disorderly house — a house that encourages misbehavior and is a disturbance to the neighborhood — and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

All the charges are misdemeanors, punishable by a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to 12 months in jail.

The Sheriff’s Office does not often encounter such cases, and Sunday’s incident was the first of its kind this year, Strickland said. "The Sheriff’s Office takes these type matters very seriously," Strickland said. "In Hall County we have had several teenagers that have died in accidents involving alcohol. ... We hope to prevent anyone from losing their life by driving after a party like this."

Gordon Higgins, spokesman for the Hall County school system, said that some of those arrested are high school athletes.

Among them was Jared "Jaybo" Shaw, 18, a Flowery Branch football player who signed a scholarship in February to play for Georgia Tech.

Others arrested are: Michael Cosby, 17, Gainesville; Blake David Caviness, 18, Buford; Patrick Henry, 18, Hoschton; Timothy Matthew Pilgrim, 17, Flowery Branch; Shane Wineberg, 17, Flowery Branch; William Cameron Wilson, 18, Flowery Branch; Benjamin Sigman, 17, Flowery Branch; Kevin Chambers, 19, Braselton; Stephen Marcus Jones, 19, Flowery Branch; Michele Jones, 17, Duluth; Jillian Victoria Eldridge, 18, Buford; Clinton Shane Peacock, 17, Buford; and Cody Sims, 17, Flowery Branch.

Higgins said he plans to meet with school administrators soon to discuss how the arrests could subject the athletes to the school system’s drug screening procedures for interscholastic athletics.

"We will follow suit with anyone who could be found to be in violation of policies," Higgins said.

The school’s policy requires that if any student-athlete "is confirmed by the school administration to have used drugs and/or alcohol at an off-campus activity, the consequences for a positive drug test will apply."

For a first positive, the student-athlete will be banned for 10 percent of the team’s scheduled games for the season, beginning with the next scheduled contest.

The student-athlete and parents must also provide evidence of enrollment in a drug-counseling program approved by the principal.

All have been released on bond.

Times reporter Jeff Gill contributed to this report.

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