As students head back to school and rekindle friendships, Frank Sepehri hopes they’ll also take time to reflect and socialize responsibly.
Sepehri’s son, Navid, died during his senior year at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda.
Sepehri found 17-year-old Navid on Dec. 10 in a stream in a wooded ravine near the Bannockburn Swim Club after the teen went missing early that morning. Navid had left a party the night before at a house about a half a mile from where he was found. He died from acute alcohol intoxication complicated by drowning and hypothermia. The medical examiner ruled his death as accidental and police decided the parents who hosted the party had not condoned alcohol consumption and would not be charged with any crimes. The party on Elgin Lane involved underage drinking and prompted a police response, and officers interacted with several teens, including Sepehri, as well as two homeowners at the house.
This summer, Navid’s family and friends gathered for a vigil to dedicate a bench along the Capital Crescent Trail in Navid’s memory.
“His love and kindness continue to bear enduring fruits in the lives of those he touched,” a plaque on the bench reads. “He will be sorely missed by his family and friends.”
Navid’s parents have also established the Nav foundation, which advocates for education, information and solutions to stop alcohol drinking and addiction among young people.
Frank Sepehri said he also hopes to make contact this school year with administrators at Whitman to advocate for programs that make young people aware of the dangers of alcohol consumption and stress parental responsibility.
“This is an issue we need to discuss,” Frank Sepehri said.
Whitman’s former principal, Alan Goodwin, spoke out strongly against underage drinking during his tenure, which ended with retirement in June. The school’s website continues to list drug and alcohol resources on its front page.
Frank Sepehri said about three dozen people came to the dedication of the bench, which is just behind Ourisman Honda in downtown Bethesda.
“We just wanted to set up something as a reminder for the people to not forget,” Frank Sepehri said.
Asked whether the plaque, vigils or other remembrances have helped his family find peace, Sepehri responded: “Every day it might be getting worse, actually,” he said. “We have no idea what happened.”
Navid’s parents feel that someone, somewhere must have more information about their son’s final moments. Capt. Paul Starks, a Montgomery County police spokesman, said “if somebody did come forward at this point, we would accept information from them.”