The 17-year-old high school offensive lineman who was heading to play for Notre Dame next year was intoxicated and "pretty belligerent" prior to falling to his death from a hotel balcony, deputy police chief Major David Humphreys said today, raising questions about spring break safety.
Matt James was a standout high school football player from Cincinnati who fell from a fifth-floor hotel balcony in Panama City, Fla.
"The people in the room next to him were trying to help calm him down from a state of belligerence. He leaned over the balcony rail and in just a matter of seconds as he was leaning over to shake his finger at these people and talk to them he just went over the side," Humphreys said.
Humphreys could not comment on how intoxicated James was until the autopsy report is released, but said "according to the witnesses, many of them his friends, he was to the point where he was pretty belligerent and broke some things in the hotel room just prior to the fall."
No one in the group has been "forthcoming" with how the teens got the alcohol, Humphreys said.
"Certainly if someone was to provide a minor with alcohol, obviously it leading to a tragic event like this, [pressing charges] is certainly a possibility," Humphreys said.
James was with a group of about 40 young people and six parents, according to The Associated Press.
At the time of James' death the exact location of each chaperone is unknown, Humphreys said, but several were at the hotel but not in the room with James.
ABC News was unable to contact any of the chaperones in James' group.
James' accident was the fourth balcony fall this year in the Panama City Beach area and the second fatality.
Brandon Kohler, 19, from Winder, Ga., died when he plunged from a different hotel balcony on March 24. Alcohol was also involved in that accident, according to Kohler's friends.
During spring break thousands of young people, many of them minors, descent on beach towns like Panama City to party. But year after year the same question arises, where are the adults?
"I think it is a perfect storm because you have a group of kids who feel they're almost adults, they're going to be going off to college soon, and therefore they need less supervision. Parents feel that way. And unfortunately the adults who are supposed to be supervising them are fooled as well by how mature looking these teenagers are. Unfortunately they still are immature," Dr. Harold Koplewicz, president of the child Study Center Foundation, said.
When deciding whether to allow your child to go away on spring break one child psychologist told ABC News that parents should know whether their children can handle the temptation of spring break. If they can't, then the children shouldn't be going away even with adult supervision.
But when asked how the police could have prevented an accident like James, Humphreys said he wasn't sure there was anything that could have been done.
"You know in this case, you talk about how to get a handle on this, but in this case the young man was on the balcony with his friends there was no indication that he was in any distress as far as falling off a balcony… I don't know if you were standing right there could you have done anything to prevent it," Humphreys said.