SCSO Crashes House Parties; Underage Drinkers Charged

Huntsville, TN (2017-08-14) Nearly a dozen young adults and four juveniles are facing charges after authorities broke-up three house parties over the weekend where underage drinkers were reportedly present.

UPDATED:  8/15/17 @ 7:30P

An earlier version of this story inadvertently included the name of an alleged juvenile offender.  As a policy, Oneida Broadcasters, Inc. does not report the name of juveniles accused of a crime.  Given the sensitive nature of the story, we explicitly attempted to confirmed with authorities, on more than one occasion, that all persons mentioned by name were 18 years of age or older before publication.  We later learned that one of those mentioned was less than 18 years of age, and the name was stricken from the record.  We regret the error.

Two adults were arrested, ten others were cited, and four juveniles were charged following a series of raids on three house parties Saturday night by the Scott County Sheriff’s Office and the 8th Judicial District Drug Task Force.  The raids were part of an 8-hour surge by local authorities to crack down on underage drinking and drug abuse.

Late Saturday evening and early Sunday morning, the Sheriff’s Office raided three house parties in Scott County; one each in the Fairview, Helenwood, and Oneida communities.  The party in the Fairview community resulted in the arrest of one of the homeowners, and most of the citations.  According to a news release from the Sheriff’s Office, Whitney L. Byrge, 21, of Huntsville was allegedly one of the hosts of that party.  She along with her alleged co-hosts, identified as Amanda Worthington and Kayla Lowe, ages unknown, were each charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.  While Worthington and Lowe were cited for their role in the party, Byrge was reportedly jailed because she refused to comply with officers and resisted arrest.  A fourth adult, identified as Kierston Yancey was also arrested, after authorities say she attempt to run from the scene.  Yancey was charged with evading arrest and illegal consumption of alcohol.  In addition to Byrge and Yancey, authorities also arrested a 16-year-old juvenile.  Authorities say he attempted to flee the scene on foot, but was later caught.  He was reportedly charged with illegal consumption of alcohol, evading arrest, and possession of tobacco by a minor (two counts).  A second 16-year-old juvenile was cited for illegal consumption and released into the custody of an adult.

“I’m very concerned for the safety of our young adults here in Scott County who are choosing to drink alcohol and attend parties,” stated Scott County Sheriff Ronnie Phillips.

Alcohol wasn’t the only illicit substance found at those parties.  Authorities say attendees at another house party in the Helenwood community were not only drinking, but had marijuana and drug paraphernalia.  There, three people were charged.

“We’re finding that some (young adults) are using marijuana products with high THC potency,” Sheriff Phillips added.

Although these young adults were caught, Sheriff Phillips hopes they, and their parents, will get something positive from the experience.  “It breaks my heart, but sometimes the only way to help them is to enforce the law and plead with their parents to assist the judicial system in implementing their punishment and rehab, so they can walk away without a criminal record and a lesson learned,” he said.

With that said, local authorities will be cracking down on underage drinking and partying.  “These underage drinking parties are over!” Phillips said.  Phillips has directed his officers to break up such parties, and to immediately notify parents of their children’s participation.

Funding for Saturday night’s enforcement effort was provided by the STAND Coalition (Schools Together Allowing No Drugs), which applied for and received a grant from the White House Office of the National Drug Control Policy.  “I want to thank the STAND Coalition for all of their help to the Scott County Sheriff’s Office”, Phillips said.

Officers participating the surge were:  Sheriff Phillips; Drug Agent Kris Lewallen; Sgt. Danny Phillips; Criminal Interdiction Officer Keith Hawkins; K-9 Deputy Daniel Garrett and his canine, Hacon; and Deputies Tyler Johnson, Tony Jones, Sarah Huckeby and Billy Hammock of the Scott County Sheriff’s Office and Drug Agent Bill Miller of the 8th Judicial District Drug Task Force.