Three Dos Palos High School football players will have to sit on the sidelines for most of the season following their arrests by Merced County Sheriff's deputies for allegedly engaging in underage drinking and driving under the influence.
Deputies arrested 18-year-old Jesse Esquivel around 2:30 a.m. on Sept. 30 for driving under the influence. He was booked into Merced County Main Jail and released four hours later. Six other teens who were in the car with Esquivel were released into the custody of their parents, according to Det. Paul Barile.
Barile said he and three other deputies pulled over the car near South Highway 59 and McNamara Road around after they spotted the 2005 blue Dodge Intrepid without any taillights. Barile said there were four males and three females in the car, which included a 17-year-old male who had been packed in the car's trunk.
"Nobody even told us there was a kid in the trunk. They were all keeping their mouths shut," Barile said. "They had no tail lights, so if they got rear-ended he probably would have been killed."
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Police say the teens, all Dos Palos High students ranging from 17 to 18 years old, had been drinking and smoking marijuana at Lake McNamara party and were on their way back to Dos Palos when they were stopped. Barile said the deputies could smell the alcoholic beverages on some of the teens' breath.
Four of the teens admitted to drinking, Barile said, and a marijuana pipe was also found in the trunk. Two of the teens were determined to not have been drinking, Barile said.
Although Barile did not know Esquivel's blood-alcohol content level, he said the teen did fail a field sobriety test that was administered by the deputies.
Barile said he was informed that three of the four teens in the vehicle had been suspended from the football team for four games because of the school's no tolerance policy with regard to drug and alcohol use. One of the girls, who is a cheerleader, was also suspended.
The team has five games left in its season, Barile said. But, he said, the teens are lucky to be alive.
"We have high school students every year that are being killed in drug-related or alcohol related accidents," Barile said.
Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at 209-385-2431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.