Dublin Teen Killed In Crash; Party Hosts Facing Misdemeanor Penalty

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A Dublin teen was killed in a drunk driving crash, and now the father and son hosts of the party that the teen allegedly attended are charged in connection with the death.

The accused hosts of the party are now facing misdemeanor charges, connected to an ordinance in the city of Dublin, called the "social host" law.

Dublin’s police chief says the local law is essentially constructed to hold people accountable and prevent underage drinking.

However, as it applies to this case, some think the penalty isn't stiff enough.

In early August, Stephen A. Romanelli crashed his car and died while driving along Muirfield Drive, north of Memorial Drive

Police records show the 18-year-old came from an underage drinking party and had a blood-alcohol level of .20, which is more than twice the legal limit for an adult, and ten times the limit for people underage.

The family who allegedly hosted the party, Brian Willms and his 18-year-old son Cameron, are now facing first-degree misdemeanor charges, but some are asking whether that is enough.

In newly released Dublin police reports, Brian Willms told police he didn't see Romanelli drink, nor did he sense that Romanelli was drunk when he left their house.

Following a lengthy investigation, Dublin's police chief says the father and son were charged, according to their "social host" law.

“Turning a blind eye is not acceptable. We feel, if we do our due diligence, we should make sure that our kids, if it's within our power, are not consuming or possessing alcohol,” said Dublin Police Chief Heinz von Eckartsberg.

“These kind of laws need a lot more teeth in them. There's just not enough there to grab the attention of people, of why this isn't a good thing,” said Marcie Seidel, executive director of Drug-Free Action Alliance.

Seidel said she has been running the campaign, "Parents Who Host, Lose The Most," for more than a decade.  

She said tragic cases like these only further emphasize why Ohio needs stronger penalties.

“People want to be friends to children, they need to be adults, they need to be parents, and they need to be people who guide and protect young people and giving them alcohol is not the way to do it,” said Seidel.

Dublin’s police chief says Dublin police have filed the "social host" charge 14 times prior to this case.

He was unwilling to comment to 10TV on how it pertains to this exact case, or if any more charges will follow.