CINCINNATI — A 17-year-old Notre Dame football recruit who was killed in a fall from a fifth-floor hotel balcony during his senior-year spring break in Florida was "drunk and belligerent," authorities said Saturday.
Matt James died Friday around 6:30 p.m. at the Days Inn Motel in Panama City Beach. Police said he was dead when officers arrived.
"It appears to be a tragic accident," Panama City Beach police Maj. David Humphreys said.
James "had leaned over the balcony rail, was shaking his finger at the people in the next room over. He fell over," police said.
James' former teammates at St. Xavier High School gathered for a private prayer service in the school's chapel, mourning the second death of an athlete this school year. James, an all-state offensive lineman, had been the first top signing for new Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly.
James was part of a group of about 40 St. Xavier students and a half-dozen parents on the trip.
"Witnesses and friends indicate he had become drunk and belligerent," Humphreys said.
Humphreys said the railing at the hotel met the standards for proper height. He said police would be interested in pursuing charges if they learn who provided the underage teen with alcohol.
Police said an autopsy on James would be done later. Toxicology results were pending.
James' parents went to Florida on Friday night, returned to Cincinnati and released a statement Saturday evening asking for privacy while they make funeral arrangements and grieve.
"We would like to thank everyone for their prayers and support during this tragic time, particularly the family at St. X," Jerry and Peggy James said. "Matt was a very special young man, and it is gratifying to us that you all could see that as well. We are touched by this outpouring of love."