FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Saturday night started with a bonfire party, booze and 60-plus friends.
It ended by 1:20 a.m. Sunday, June 1, with a lot of heartbroken teens, grieving parents and one death.
Paul “Louis” Castell Jr., 17, of Dawsonville, died after he was thrown from a truck that wrecked with a telephone pole.
The rising senior at North Forsyth High School was a passenger.
The drunken driver, a 17-year-old, (this newspaper policy does not print names of anyone under 18 who was arrested) was charged with first degree vehicular homicide, DUI, underage possession and consumption of alcohol.
About 1:20 a.m. June 1, a white 2011 Dodge Ram with four teens onboard had left Jeremiah Funke’s house party on Hyde Road.
Funke’s parents were out of town.
The truck traveled fast eastbound when it ran off the road on a curve at the intersection of Kelly Mill Road and Rockingham Run near West Forsyth High School.
Forsyth County Sheriff investigators say the truck slid sideways across the sidewalk and into the grass shoulder.
The rear-passenger side door of the truck impacted a telephone pole. Castell, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected and as a result of his injuries, died at the scene.
Castell’s death marks the sixth road-related fatality in county roads so far this year.
The other occupants of the truck, rear seat passengers — Delton Cook, 18, of Cumming, a 15 year old male — and a 17-year old front seat passenger were taken, along with the driver to North Fulton Hospital for non-life threatening injuries.
The driver was determined to be impaired and was taken to the Forsyth County Detention Center. The driver’s bond was set at $20,000. At the time of his arrest, the driver of the truck was on probation for two incidents in February, Robin Regan, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office said. He had been cited for underage drinking at North Forsyth High School. The teen was released to his parents and a few moments later was spotted by police walking on the roadway still under the influence of alcohol and taken to jail.
After getting a warrant, the home of Jeremiah Funke,18, where the party took place in nearby Hyde Road was searched by Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office investigators. They discovered that a party had taken place involving about 60 teenagers.
No neighbors called the police on the party.
“Had deputies responded to the scene, whether they were charged or not, they would have been turned over to their parents,” Regan said.
After the search warrant was complete, Funke was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana less than an ounce, possession / consumption of alcohol by a minor, and maintaining a disorderly house.
Funke, who is homeschooled, bonded out of the Forsyth County Detention Center after posting a $2,365 bond.
Further charges may still be pending relating to this incident. Investigators are currently looking into how the alcohol was obtained and who brought it to Funke’s residence, Regan said.
“They are still investigating and talking to people who were there,” Regan said. “There could be additional suspects as well as additional charges for the current suspects.”
Regan said the sheriff’s office plans to ramp up underage drinking enforcement.
Last month, sheriff deputies visited schools to warn about the dangers of drinking and driving.
Services for Castell were held June 5 at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Cumming. He was buried at Sawnee View Memorial Gardens. Friends put together a makeshift memorial on Kelly mill Road, leaving Bibles, notes in jars and flowers.
Castell was an avid outdoorsman his friends say. Abby Speer, told WSB-TV he was the type of guy who never stopped giving and loved everyone and was friends with so many people.
Castell played Lacrosse and ran Cross Country, raised goats and chickens and sold eggs for money.
Castell’s mother, Michelle “Shelly” Castell died of cancer July 6, 2013. Louis is survived by his father Paul Louis Castell Sr. and sister Lucy Michelle Castell.