PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Jacob Cox-Brown might want to adjust his Facebook privacy settings.
Police in the coastal city of Astoria, Ore., arrested the teenager after he allegedly confessed via Facebook that he had been driving drunk on New Year's Eve and hit someone's car.
Deputy Chief Brad Johnston said Thursday that officers were investigating a hit and run involving a sideswiped car that sustained significant damage — a second car was also hit — when two Facebook friends of Cox-Brown contacted authorities, reporting a Facebook post in which the 18-year-old wrote: "Drivin drunk ... classsic ;) but to whoever's vehicle i hit i am sorry. :P"
One of his friends sent a Facebook message to an Astoria police officer; the other called the station, Johnston said.
Officers went to Cox-Brown's house and found a vehicle that matched the damage done to the two vehicles. Police also connected pieces from the crash scene to the vehicle registered to Cox-Brown.
"He denied it initially, and it wasn't until he was confronted with overwhelming evidence that he finally admitted to it," Johnston said.
Cox-Brown, who has more than 650 Facebook friends, did not immediately respond to a Facebook message from the AP seeking comment. He does not have a phone number listed in his name.
But in an interview with KATU News, Cox-Brown claimed he hit the cars due to icy weather conditions, not drunk driving. He said the post was all in fun. "Yeah, sure, I shouldn't have posted that," he said. "I kind of regret it, but it just got blown out of proportion, but I don't know."
He also said he has made similar posts in the past and his friends know he can be sarcastic.
A woman who said her husband got a message from Cox-Brown telling him he hit her car wants to know why he didn't stop at the time and then talked about it on Facebook.
"I'm like, why would you post that? I didn't have to do anything, he pretty much turned himself in," McKenzie Wilson said as she pointed out two spots on her Scion that were hit.
Cox-Brown was charged with failure to perform the duties of a driver. He was booked into the Clastsop County Jail and released on his own recognizance.
He has two prior arrests on burglary and criminal mischief charges.
Cox-Brown avoided a charge of drunken driving because he was interviewed hours after the incident and the Facebook post is not sufficient evidence that he was intoxicated.
"We can't just convict somebody based on the fact that they said they were drunk," Johnston said.
Johnston said the department is fairly active in social media and it has been useful in several cases.
He added that the takeaway from this case is not that people should be careful about what they post on Facebook: "No, the message is stop and contact people when you run into their cars."
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press and KATU News