16-year-old Penticton student killed at grad party

The identity of a Penticton Secondary student stabbed and killed sometime around 1 a.m. Friday morning at the graduating class' annual bush party in the Carmi Road area has been confirmed as Andrew McAdam.

The identity of a high school student stabbed and killed at a bush party has been confirmed as  Andrew McAdam, a student at Penticton Secondary School.

Penticton RCMP responded to the stabbing incident, reported by BC Ambulance Service at around 2 a.m. on June 17. The stabbing occurred in the rural Carmi Road area, at a location where over 100 local high school students had gathered for a year-end grad party.

McAdam, who would have turned 17 on June 20, was transported to Penticton Regional Hospital where he was pronounced deceased shortly after arrival. Scene investigators are continuing their examination today of the forestry area where the incident occurred. Police are working on the priority task of establishing how many individuals were directly involved. The teenager’s death is being classified as a homicide, however investigators have not confirmed the cause of death. An autopsy is scheduled to take place in the coming days in Penticton.

RCMP investigators have a 19-year-old male in custody , however charges have not been laid.

Crisis teams were at Pen High Friday, according to Wendy Hyer, superintendent of the Okanagan Skaha School District, who said the murdered boy, a hockey player, was popular at the school.

Hyer also said she has been told that the perpetrator  is in police custody and was not a student. Reportedly, he was one of several young adults crashing the graduating students’ “sunset party” in the Carmi Road area.

“We suggest that parents and guardians sit down with their teens to confirm whether or not they were at the party and to contact us with any information that may assist with the investigation,” said RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk.

The party, which is not a school sanctioned event, has been a source of trouble in the past. It’s part of a graduation ritual that takes place each year; grads hold a “sunrise party” in the same area the day before school each year, and another — sunset — before the final day of the year.

Last year, the party went out of control as 350 people, some students from other schools and others in their early 20s showed up causing a disturbance that resulted in at least two students being injured.

“Most of these events don’t involve grads at all. They involve all the other people that show up for all the wrong reasons,” said Hyer. “We try to explain to parents that this isn’t a school event. It is a dangerous event because there is not just graduates there and there have been injuries and incidents. It is just not a safe place to be.”

Hyer said the district has tried to adopt a proactive approach to the parties, sending letters to parents warning of the dangers and having teachers speaking to their students in class and parents again at PAC meetings.

“We work really hard,” said Hyer. The parties have been going on for many years, she said, and in the past schools have turned a blind eye to students coming to class the next day hung over or still drunk.

“We’ve gone to not it’s not okay, you can’t do that, and being proactive with parents; trying to get them to not let their kids go there,” she said. “At some point, we just have to keep our kids at home so we know they are safe.”

The school district has no direct control over the parties, since they occur outside of school hours and off school grounds.

“We just get to deal with the aftermath,” said Hyer.