A Tokay High School football star playing the role of a driver in a staged alcohol-related crash was himself arrested Thursday when police allegedly found drugs in his wallet.
Burney "Patrick" McCarthy, 18, was booked into the Lodi jail, still wearing make-up that made him appear to have a black eye and fake blood on his shirt. He was held on $10,000 bail, on suspicion of possessing a narcotic, which police said was apparently morphine.
McCarthy had volunteered to participate in Every 15 Minutes, a program that tries to teach teens about the hazards of driving under the influence. It's named for the statistic that someone dies in a DUI crash every 15 minutes.
Tokay High Principal Erik Sandstrom said he was "chagrined" when he learned of the arrest, but that it will be another learning experience for students.
"We're trying to teach kids not to make bad choices," he said. "It's not just alcohol, it's all these other things you can be under the influence of."
The program started Thursday morning with a car wreck staged outside the 1111 W. Century Blvd. campus. All junior and senior students watched as police officers, firefighters and paramedics arrived at the scene, going through the same motions they do in real car crashes.
McCarthy played the role of the intoxicated driver, and several other students appeared to have injuries, one fatal.
Motor Officer Brian Freeman led McCarthy through the standard field sobriety tests that officers administer to drivers they suspect are intoxicated. Then he handcuffed McCarthy and took him to Officer Raul Trevino's patrol car.
A videographer rode in the patrol car and filmed the whole process, including a staged booking at the jail, so the video could be shown at an assembly today.
That part was all planned.
McCarthy had his wallet in his pocket, so Trevino logged it for safe-keeping. During a booking, officers document a wallet's contents, in order to prevent lost property. That's when the unplanned happened.
"In plain sight behind the clear picture compartment, I saw two little pills," Trevino said.
Freeman called poison control and described writing on the pills, and was told they were morphine. The pills have since been sent to a Department of Justice lab for official testing, Trevino said.
McCarthy mentioned something about a shoulder problem but had no prescription for the morphine, so he was arrested on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance, Trevino said. In California, it is illegal to possess a narcotic without a doctor's prescription.
School policies also mandate that all medicine be checked in at the office in order to prevent it from getting into the wrong hands, Trevino said.
Those involved in the Every 15 Minutes program had an opportunity to turn over any medicine — whether it was diabetes medication or over-the-counter pain reliever — Thursday morning, Sandstrom said. It was held for safe-keeping and available when needed.
Students playing active roles in Every 15 Minutes stay overnight in a program coordinated by school and law enforcement, with most of it being documented on film. They hold a funeral for the deceased and write letters to their loved ones.
Officials try to select students who represent the student body, ranging from athletes to scholars and of various ethnicities, Sandstrom said.
McCarthy, a 6-foot-tall linebacker and running back, was apparently the "jock."
This year he set a school record for the most number of tackles. He was named the Tri-City Athletic League Defensive Player of the Year after leading the Tigers with a team-record 137 tackles and added five sacks. Offensively, McCarthy rushed for 922 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was recently selected to play in an all-star game featuring some of the area's best seniors.
"I'm completely shocked," Tokay football coach Louis Franklin said of the allegations against McCarthy. "Kids do crazy stuff all the time, but you hope it's not one of yours."
Franklin said it seemed McCarthy had turned the corner after being kicked off the team in his junior year for breaking team rules. He noted that McCarthy even became a team leader in his senior season.
"Football was good for him. It forced him to do well in school," Franklin said.
Franklin said McCarthy had drawn interest from several colleges, including San Jose State, University of Nevada, Las Vegas and University of Nevada, Reno. Due to his grades, McCarthy was planning to attend San Joaquin Delta College.
The arrest wasn't expected, but Sandstrom said he hopes students learn from it — and that they realize that juvenile laws no longer apply when they turn 18. He also believes the Every 15 Minutes program has taught students in the decade since it started at Tokay.
"In the last 10 years, we have not had a student die from a driving under the influence accident," Sandstrom said. "We believe in the success of it."
Sports Editor Scott Howell contributed to this report.
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