Montgomery County Police is investigating its role in a missing person’s case where a 17-year-old Walt Whitman student ended up dead nearly 15 hours after his father first contacted police with concerns.
“Internal Affairs has a role in the investigation,” MCP Spokesman Captain Paul Starks said. “We’re looking at the investigative steps taken and we’re also looking at decisions made by patrol officers.”
Starks said Montgomery County Police Chief Manger will conduct a thorough review of events and whether policies were followed or if they will need to be changed. Starks says the findings will be shared with the public.
At the same time, Starks said he would also like parents and schools to reinforce the dangers of underage drinking.
Two measurements of the blood alcohol level taken from Navid Sepehri’s body during an autopsy ranged from .17 to .21, according to Bruce Goldfarb, a spokesperson for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The legal limit for driving under the influence in Maryland is a blood alcohol level of .08.
An autopsy concluded that Navid died from acute alcohol intoxication complicated by drowning and hypothermia.
“I think we as a community, including police, parents, lawmakers all need to look at these kind of tragedies and ask the question ‘what can we do better,’” Manger said in a statement.
Frank Sepehri found his son Navid deceased at approximately 4:58 p.m. on Sunday in a ravine behind Bannockburn Swim Club in Bethesda. Sepehri first contacted police at 3:30 a.m. when he drove to the 2nd District Police Station and spoke with an officer. But a missing person’s report was not filed by police until 12:46 p.m. the following afternoon, after Sepehri contacted police again.
“Based on circumstances presented to us, a report could have been and probably should have been taken by a police officer at that point,” Starks said.
Saturday evening, according to police reports, officers encountered Navid at a party he attended with friends on Elgin Lane in Bethesda where police suspected underage drinking after responding to a call from concerned neighbors.
The parents hosting the party told police that kids who were uninvited to the party came to their house and brought alcohol in, Starks said.
Navid, along with several other friends, was stopped by police as they were standing in the street outside the house apparently waiting for rides home.
According to a police statement, Navid was reportedly “under the influence,” but did not have alcohol on him.
Starks said after a discussion with police, Navid’s friends said they would take care of Navid.
A short time later Navid and his friends were apparently seen at a nearby 7-11 before Navid disappeared. His father said he contacted police more than five hours later after Navid failed to return home.