Springfield Assistant Coach arrested after player found intoxicated

TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - Police are investigating how a 16 year-old Springfield High School student ended up passed out in her assistant softball coach's car.

A witness called police after seeing the girl lying halfway out of the car's passenger seat, parked in a driveway on Rushland in West Toledo around 12:30 a.m. Sunday.

When police arrived, they found the coach and the teen, who was visibly intoxicated and fading in and out of consciousness. She was taken to Toledo Hospital.

"I thought she was dead," said neighbor Laura Sanchez, who witnessed the incident.

Police arrested Christine Zappone, 22, who is in her second season as an assistant coach for the Springfield varsity softball team. Police say Zappone first denied knowing the 16 year-old's last name before admitting she's a member of Zappone's team. Zappone told police she picked the girl up at a party in Springfield Township, but it's unclear why they ended up in West Toledo. Police say they found marijuana and a marijuana pipe under the car driver's seat.

On Monday, Zappone pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, possession of drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia. The softball player faces charges related to underage consumption and curfew violations.

"Parents are putting their trust in people like this coach to do the right thing with their kids," said Toledo Police Sgt. Joe Heffernan. "It's a little concerning when you see something like this at 12:30 in the morning, on a street in Toledo where, to the best of our knowledge, neither of them had any business being."

Springfield Local Schools superintendent Kathryn Hott said the district has begun an investigation into the incident, and disciplinary action is possible.

"We are involved, we are on top of it, and we are taking the necessary measures to deal with it in terms of the student and the assistant coach," Hott said.

The 16 year-old's mother declined to comment when reached by phone, as did Zappone's attorney. Zappone is scheduled to be back in Toledo Municipal Court for a pre-trial hearing on June 5th.