Hazing Deaths

Hank Nuwer’s Chronology of Deaths Among U.S. College and High School Students as a result of hazing, initiation, and pledging-related accidents. The list has been expanded to include military deaths, adult societies such as Masonic organizations and occupational deaths with hazing involved. (Note: Page was updated July 24, 2015. HN). One new piece of information. There has been at least one hazing death a year every year since 1969 (not 1970 as thought) to 2014. Note: a death listed by Wikipedia of Anna Johnson at the University of South Dakota is inaccurate; she recovered her health. It is one of about four deaths listed prematurely and incorrectly by newspapers a century ago and reprinted incorrectly today on the Internet. 

1) 1838

Franklin Seminary (Kentucky)
Class Hazing

John Butler Groves died in a hazing incident, according to a family history.

2) 1847
Amherst College (Massachusetts)
Class Hazing

Jonathan D. Torrance died of illness following a drenching with iced water during a hazing custom called “freshman visitation,” according to then-President Edward Hitchcock of Amherst.

3) 1873
Cornell University (New York)
Kappa Alpha Society

Mortimer N. Leggett died in a fall into a steep gorge while on a walk in the dark required by fraternity members. Family claims that Leggett was blindfolded were disputed by the chapter.

4) 1885

A Hazelton, Pennsylvania High School


Newspapers across the country reported hat Edward Turnbach died of injuries from a beating administered by fellow students on September 19.

5) 1892
Yale University (Connecticut)
Delta Kappa Epsilon

A blindfolded student was killed in an accident in an initiation incident condemned then as outdated “criminal recklessness” by the national fraternity, according to a published article by Fred Kershner (now deceased), formerly of Columbia Teachers College and a fraternity member.

6) 1894
Cornell University (New York)
Bystander accidental death

A non-Cornell bystander accidentally died during a class prank involving deliberate use of chlorine gas.

7) 1898

Decatur High School, Indiana

High School Physical Hazing

According to Wikipedia and the Logansport Pharos-Tribune, freshman David C. Jones was one of several boys thrown over a fence. A battle royal ensued and Jones died a few days later of a spinal injury.

6) 1899
Cornell University (New York)
Kappa Alpha Society

Pledge Edward F. Berkeley drowned while completing a pledging errand.

8) 1899
Lawrenceville, New Jersey
High School hazing (Details sketchy. Please email Hank Nuwer if you have more information).

Martin V. Bergen, son of Councilman Peter V. Bergen, of this place, died  from injuries received at a hazing at Lawrenceville. He died of inflammation of the bowels. Young Bergen was twelve years old and a freshman at Lawrenceville. He was being put through the initiation when one of the hazers accidentally fell upon him. [Source: Columbus Daily Enquirer, November 23, 1899]

9) 1900
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Class Scrap

Hugh C. Moore died following a snapped neck in a traditional fight between first- and second-year students.

10) 1900
United States Military Academy (New York)
Illness that revealed hazing abuses

Although the death of plebe Oscar Booz was considered illness-caused by a committee of inquiry, those members of the U.S. House of Representatives on the committee determined that he also had been hazed maliciously by upperclassmen.

11) 1900
Charleston, S. C Porter Military Academy (South Carolina)
Accident during hazing. No punishment despite death.

“Charleston, S. C, Nov. 5. Thomas
Finley Brown, 12, Is dead from injuries
received while being hazed at
tho Porter military academy last Monday.
Brown was now at the academy
and the older boys, following their
former custom, dropped him Into a
cemented swimming basin 12 feet
deep. The basin was dry at the time
and tho lad received internal injuries
from the fall. Before he died he did
not give the names of the cadets who
had mistreated him, and It Is said no
action will be taken In the matter. Source: Evening Bulletin, Maysville, Kentucky”

12) 1903
University of Maryland, Baltimore campus
Phi Psi Chi

Inadequate forensic techniques of the day were unable to provide an exact cause of death other than “congestion of the lungs” for Martin Loew following a hazing by fellow students of the local dental fraternity that left Loew’s body bruised.

13) 1903

Bluffton High School (Indiana)

Secret Society

Ten young men went on trial following the death of “L of S.S.B” recruit Ralph McBride. While McBride was hazed, his death of sepsis occurred five months later. A criminal trial failed to show the death definitely was linked to McBride’s hazing, according to the Indianapolis Journal of December 27, 1903.

14) 1903

Barton, Vermont

Bullying and Torture

Three preteen males decided to pick on 9 year-old Ralph Canning by having him perform mock hazing acts such as sitting and standing on heated rocks. They then physically attacked him. Canning died of his injuries.

15) 1904)

Purdue University

Freshman class hazing

Physical hazing

Upperclass students punished Frank Miller for his alleged lack of respect by painting him in school colors and throwing him off a bridge into a river and keeping him swimming when he was past exhaustion. He died of pneumonia.  [I did NOT put a number on this incident. I have written Purdue archivists for confirmation or otherwise on this case.]

16) 1904

Rawson School (Findlay, Ohio)

Alleged Schoolboy hazing

I have confirmed that Freddie Fillwock died. A newspaper account reported that he suffered multiple injuries as a result of striking his head and subsequent piling on during an initiation

17) 1905
Kenyon College (Ohio)
Delta Kappa Epsilon
Accidental Death Following a Hazingpierson

Stuart L. Pierson was struck by a train after fraternity brothers left him on a bridge in an incident called “a mystery death” by Kenyon historian George Franklin Smythe.

18) 1905
High School Hazing (Lima, Ohio)
Death following an initiation

William Taylor, 13, died of pneumonia following an episode where he was rough-housed outdoors in winter by older students.

19) 1906

Hilliard High School (Columbus, Ohio)

Class Hazing

The New York Times reported that representatives of the family of Cecil F. Leat have sued for $10,000 damages after he was beaten to death in a hazing. NYT Jan. 30, 1906

20) 1906
Culver Military Academy (Indiana)
Disputed death, hazing or illness?

A father claimed death of his son Edward Beery was caused by hazing. Although 13 members of the class were expelled, the school said it would never cover up and that the direct cause of death was tonsillitis.

21) 1908
WPI (Worcester Polytechnic Institute)
Freshman-sophomore class hazing

“…A rush which took place on the evening of September 22, 1908, on the common, resulted in the death of Emil S. (Ernie)  Grau, of Wareham, a member of the Class of 1911.  Grau was caught under a struggling mass of students and suffered a fracture of the spine.  He died Sunday, September 27th, and was buried in Wareham the following Wednesday, the entire class attending the funeral, together with representatives of other classes and of the faculty.  As a result of this sad accident class rushes were given up and during the past years, the students by their own action, have abolished hazing.” In the 1911 yearbook there is a page dedicated to this student, with his photograph.  His name there is written as Emil S. Gran and it says he died September 28, 1908.  (However, the custom was started again soon after but called another name).

22) 1909 (verified but number not yet entered)

White School (Indiana)

Hazing and retaliation

After some bullies and hazers were reported, or thought to have been reported by Charles Stinson, he was hung upside down and left a long time to dangle. He died after his attackers came back. according to the Plymouth (IN) Tribune, March 25, 1909.

23) 1912
University of North Carolina
Class hazing

Freshman Isaac Rand bled to death following a stunt in which his throat was accidentally sliced by a broken bottle after he was made to dance on a barrel.

24) 1913

Loyal Order of Moose

Birmingham, Alabama


Initiates Donald A. Kenny and Christopher Gustin were being given a prank initiation in which both thought they had consented to a branding. Although they passed out, the initiation continued with deadly consequences, according to the Pittston Gazette (July 25, 1913).

25) 1913
Purdue University (Indiana)
Class hazing

Francis W. Obenchain died while participating in an annual scrap pitting first-year students against upperclass students. Newspaper accounts of the day and an official Purdue history have differing deductions for the death’s physical cause that occurred during the chaotic traditional battle under a water tank. A recent article for Traces Magazine (Indiana Historical Society) charged that there is evidence of a coverup back in 1913 as to the precise cause of Obenchain’s death.

26) 1914
St. John’s Military College (Maryland)
Class Hazing

In a switch, hazer William R. Bowlus was shot and killed while hazing a first-year student.

27) 1915

Virginia Military Institute

“Rat” Hazing

Military school hazing


Thurber Sweet, 17, died of serious injuries he claimed, before his death had been caused by beatings with bayonets by older cadets. VMI superintendent E. W. Nichols denied hazing could have been a factor. The case was widely covered nationwide by newspapers.

28) 1915
University of Kentucky
Class Hazing-Related Accident

Freshman Eldridge Griffith was accidentally killed during a celebration over his class’s victory in a traditional class contest.

29) 1915
New Mexico Military Institute
Class hazing

The family of Ludwig Von Gerichten Jr. blamed his illness-related death on hazing after he was dunked in a horse tank and abandoned in the country.

30) 1917
College of the City of New York
Phi Sigma Kappa

William Ashcom Bullock died of spinal meningitis, and his mother attributed the cause to hazing because members rolled the already ill Bullock on the ground in a wet blanket.

31) 1916

Morningside College (Iowa)

Freshman hazing

Physical hazing

New student Paul N. Blue died from a head injury during extreme physical hazing, according to two newspaper sources provided by Wikipedia.

32) 1919
Colgate University (New York)
Class hazing

Freshman Frank McCullough drowned when he tried swimming to shore after sophomores abandoned him on an island.

33) 1921
Northwestern University (Illinois)
Cause of Death Unknown following a Class Hazing

Leighton Mount disappeared after a traditional class rush, and his body was found beneath a pier two years later. His demise is a mystery.

34) 1922
Hamilton College (New York)
Class Hazing or Horseplay

Duncan Saunders, 15, died of a skull fracture and ruptured aorta when he was roughly flung from a bed during an incident variously described as horseplay unrelated to hazing and hazing.

35) 1923
University of Alabama
Sigma Nu
Illness following Initiation

Glenn Kersh, who had a faulty heart, died “from psychic effects of excitement” following his fraternal initiation, according to the coroner’s report.

36) 1923
Franklin and Marshall College (Pennsylvania)
Class Hazing

Sophomore Ainsworth Brown died while injured in a scrap between classes.

37) 1923
Northwestern University (Illinois)
Class Hazing

Louis Aubere was accidentally killed by a passing car while on the running board of a car as he searched for fellow freshmen abducted by sophomores, according to a letter written by Northwestern archivist Patrick Quinn addressed to researcher Mike Moskos.

38) 1925

University of Utah

Freshman class hazing

Immersion in water

Newcomer Reginald Stringfellow’s death was believed to have been caused by prolonged duckings in tubs of water by upperclassmen. Utah finally outlawed the practice after his death, according to the Ogden Standard-Examiner (January 10, 1925).

39) 1928
University of Texas
Delta Kappa Epsilon

Pledge Nolte McElroy, an athlete, died from the electric shock when he had to crawl through mattresses charged with electric current.

40) 1929
Indiana University
Delta Chi
Illness-related Hazing

George Steinmetz Jr. died from lung disease after being physically hazed. The death was blamed by his mother on hazing, but cited as illness-related by university then-administrators who nonetheless strongly condemned all acts of hazing.

41) Stout Institute (Wisconsin)

Class hazing

Physical contact; hazing horseplay

Lloyd Aune, according to Wikipedia, died during what a participant called a “good-natured” hazing, a trite term used all too often when a death or serious injury occurs. Freshman Aune of Baldwin, Wisconsin, died a painful death after his spinal cord was severed in a wrestling tussle. According to the Milwaukee Journal (September 18, 1931) Clifford Tweed admitted to being one of those grappling with Aune but denied knowing how the young man suffered a serious spine injury. The Journal noted that the student body voted to end all hazing.

42) 1935

Milligan College (Tennessee)

Freshman class hazing

Required “games” of first-year students

Calvin Dougherty, a highly regarded basketball player from Johnson County, Indiana, died from the after-effects of internal injuries suffered when he slammed into a cable during a race mandated by upperclass students. A newspaper in Franklin, Indiana, followed his recovery, setback, and death in detail. He attended church services in Rocklane, Indiana, and a pastor accompanied the father to attend to his son’s hospital bedside.

Page 84, 1954 Edition, Milligan College - Buffalo Yearbook (Elizabethton, TN) online yearbook collection

43) 1935

Dickinson College (Pennsylvania)

Fraternity hazing

Physical contact

Wikipedia and the Altoona Tribune (April 12, 1935) report that pledge Richard Beitzel was somehow severely injured in a fall and cut his leg on a tree stump, dying later of blood poisoning. The Reading Eagle (April 19, 1935) said the college president banned all hazing as a result of the death.

44) 1936 Death (Injury incurred in 1934)

Miami-Dade High School

Iota Phi fraternity

Physical hazing

According to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune (February 25, 1936), sophomore Taylor Lewis succumbed of injuries incurred two years earlier in a hazing initiation. The school ordered an end to all fraternities and sororities.

45) 1940
University of Missouri
Theta Nu Epsilon
Alcohol-related hazing

Hubert L. Spake Jr. died following a drinking session mandated by a fraternity chapter unrecognized by the university. He likely was the first of many fraternity pledges or members to die from alcohol intoxication during an initiation, according to Hank Nuwer’s historical research.

46) 1943

High school hazing and St. Norbert’s College (Wisconsin)

High school hazing with college students present

Death from nephritis but disputed

Wayne Rogers, assaulted by at least 7 older young men, on his first day in a senior high school, succumbed after his parents asserted the hazers had taken “indecent liberties” with him. The attending physician ruled he died of nephritis caused by a blow but District Attorney Elmer R. Honkamp dismissed any connection between Rogers’s death and hazing. Wayne’s parents expressed outrage.

47) 1945
St. Louis University (Missouri)
Phi Beta Pi
Fatal Accident During Hazing

Robert Perry was turned into a human torch and died after members coated his naked body with flammable substances and applied an electric shock to his skin.

48) 1945

Military Hazing

Crossing the Line ceremony


Shipfitter 2C Jack P. Jarosz died while touching an electrified trident during the King Neptune portion of his hazing for the U.S. Navy, according to the San Bernadino (CA) County Sun (April 3, 1946).

49) 1946

SS Frederick Galbraith work ship

Crossing the Line ceremony, non-military

Occupational hazing

Teenage workers Leroy Robert Bragg, 14, and Stanford Fluit, 16, died from an overdose of saltpeter during a ship’s hazing at the Equator.  Photo owned by Hank Nuwer.

43) 1948

Montana State University

Les Bouffons (The Clowns) Secret Society (local)

Shooting by security guard during prank

War hero and veteran James Peterson, a married father, was shot in the chest as he and 11 initiates of the local society attempted to break into a heating-plant building to set off a whistle as part of their initiation celebration. Peterson, 26, survived 38 air combat missions during World War Two, according to the Ogden Standard Examiner (April 5, 1948).

44) 1949
Brown University (Rhode Island)
Fraternity Rush Night

While on a tour of a fraternity house intended as a rush event to introduce pledges to different fraternal chapters, H. T. Gehl, 19, fell down a set of stairs and died two days later.

45) 1950
University of California, Berkeley
Sigma Pi
Death Following Hazing Dropoff

Pledge Gerald L. Foletta died when hit by an automobile after members dropped him off in the countryside.

46) 1950
Wittenberg University (Ohio)
Alpha Tau Omega
Death Following Hazing Dropoff

Pledge Dean J. Niswonger was hit by a car as he slept after being dropped off on a road far from campus.

47) 1951

Northwestern State College (Louisiana)

Class Hazing

Cruel prank resulting in drowning death

Freshman Allen Kaplan, 18, of Massachusetts, was duped by upperclassmen into meeting a woman on a bluff used as a Lover’s Lane. One perpetrator pretended to be a furious husband and fired a shotgun blast that sent a panicked Kaplan running, according to the Monroe Morning World. Kaplan’s father forgave the pranksters after his son’s submerged body was removed from the nearby Red River.

48) 1951

University of Miami (Florida)

Lambda Chi Alpha

Kidnaping and car drop-off 30 miles from campus

Exhausted pledges Thomas Kleppner and Fred Evens, Jr., were killed (Kleppner instantly) when an oncoming driver failed to spot them sleeping at roadside, according to The Daily Republican (May 31, 1951). The Miami yearbook lists the following Lambda Chi Alpha officers: Larry Sena, President, Dave Bowers, Vice President, Gene Frieda, Secretary, Pete Wheeler, Treasurer, ,lack Buhlen, Social Chairman Richard Bailey, Ritualist Tom Arnno, Rush Chairman.

49) 1954
Swarthmore College (Pennsylvania)
Delta Upsilon
Death during Hazing Dropoff

Peter Mertz was killed by a passing car after members abandoned him in the country.

50) 1956
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Delta Kappa Epsilon
Death Following Hazing Dropoff

Disoriented pledge Thomas Clark drowned in a reservoir after members dropped him off in countryside unfamiliar to him.

51) 1957
University of California, Santa Barbara
Delta Tau Delta
Death During “Pinning” Pseudo-initiation

Max Caulk, 22, drowned in a harbor following a silly initiation practiced by members after fellow members got pinned or engaged to a sorority woman.

52) 1959
University of Southern California
Kappa Sigma
Physical hazing (eating ritual)

Pledge Richard Swanson choked to death while trying to swallow a slab of liver at the request of members.

53) 1959

Yakima High School (Washington State)

Letterman’s Club

Paddling of new members wearing burlap sacks; under supervision of a coach

Henry Sherwood, the unlucky one of 16 initiates, drowned wearing a burlap sack after submitting to a paddling. Head football coach Don Smith was present and overseeing the paddling and subsequent tragedy.

54) 1963

Charleston High School

Band Hazing

Alleged beating death

Long before the more famous deadly hazing of Robert Champion in a Florida A & M band hazing, high school band members accused of administering a fatal “pink belly” beating to 15-year-old newcomer Michael Murphy in a hazing were let go by a court and acquitted, according to the Spokane Daily Chronicle (October 18, 1963).

55) 1965
Georgetown College (Kentucky)
Pi Kappa Alpha
Death During “Pinning” Pseudo-initiation

Member Richard Winder drowned in dam waters while hazing a fellow member during a silly initiation practiced by members after someone in the chapter was pinned or engaged.

56) 1967
Baylor University (Texas)
Baylor Chamber of Commerce
Physical hazing (eating ritual)

John E. Clifton died while choking down a foul concoction requested by members. The state ruled the incident an accident, and the then-college president said the incident did not meet his definition of hazing.

57) 1966

Roman Catholic High School (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Athletic hazing


Lamonte R. Jenkins died of drowning after being tossed into water near West Chester, according to Wikipedia and the Hazleton Standard-Speaker . Authorities found “no malicious intent,” according to the Standard-Speaker.

58) 1969

Muskingum College (Ohio)

Athletic hazing

Overexertion during exercise session

Scott Graeler, a tackle, died during an initiation at the team’s Stag Club House. A club president later paid a $100 fine, according to Wikipedia.

59) 1970
Eastern Illinois University
Alpha Gamma Delta sorority
Accidental death of member during prank abduction

A sorority member jumped on the bumper of a moving car as pledges tried to abandon her in the country as a joke. The death was ruled accidental by authorities, and a family member argued that her death should be called a prank, not hazing.

Was alcohol a factor?  No alcohol charges were placed against the pledges. My interview with the district attorney who declined to press charges did not include any questions from me on alcohol.

60) 1971
Tulane University (Louisiana)
Delta Kappa Epsilon
Rush-related horseplay or hazing

Wayne Kennedy, 17, drowned after being thrown in a lake during a rush party. Authorities at the time called the incident non-hazing horseplay.

Was alcohol a factor? Yes.

61) 1972
Pierce College (California)
Chi Chi Chi
Death Following Hazing Dropoff

Member Fred Bronner was taken on a dropoff for his alleged bad attitude by members. Taken without his glasses, he plunged into a gorge and died.

Was alcohol a factor? Unknown to moderator.

62) 1972
University of Maryland
Sigma Alpha Mu
Physical hazing

Member Brian Cursack collapsed and died after performing calisthenics during pledging.

Was alcohol a factor? Unknown to moderator.

63) 1973
Lehigh University (Pennsylvania)
Delta Phi
Pledge leaped from car during abduction

Pledge Mitchell Fishkin died when he jumped from car while being taken to a dropoff far from campus. School and fraternity officials called the incident horseplay, not hazing.

Was alcohol a factor? Unknown to moderator.

67, 66, 65, 64) 1974
Grove City College (Pennsylvania)
Four pledges died following dropoff

Four of the 17 pledges taken on a dropoff were killed by a car whose driver had fallen asleep at the wheel. The dead were Thomas Morgan Elliott, John Curtin, Rudolph Mion, and Gary Gilliland, all 18.

Was alcohol a factor?  Unknown. A relative wrote to say her family believed the driver had been drinking but that no charges had been placed to the family’s knowledge. Most accounts say the driver fell asleep at the wheel.

68) 1974
Monmouth College (New Jersey)
Zeta Beta Tau
Physical hazing

williamWilliam E. Flowers, 19, suffocated after being entombed in a grave members asked him to dig on a sandy ocean beach.

Was alcohol a factor? Unknown to moderator. However, none of my press clippings mention alcohol use in this case, nor did Mrs. Dorothy Flowers cite alcohol in my interview with her in 1989.

69) 1974
Bluefield State College (West Virginia)
Tau Kappa Epsilon
Shooting during pre-induction

Michael Bishop, a fraternity member, was shot and killed by the chapter’s graduate adviser during a bizarre hazing. Cans were put on heads of pledges and knocked off with a stick simultaneously as a gun was fired by a member or the adviser.

Alcohol: primary factor.

70) 1975
Northern Illinois University
Wine Psi Phi
Alcohol-related hazing death

Richard A. Gowins died following alcohol poisoning mandated by members of a social club not affiliated with the university.

Alcohol: primary factor.

71) 1975
University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point
Siasefi fraternity (spelling is correct)
Alcohol-related hazing death

Pledge David Hoffman died in his sleep after members took him on a so-called “Death March” during which students drank at local bars.

Alcohol: primary factor.

72) 1975
University of Nevada, Reno
Sundowners (local drinking fraternity)
Alcohol-related initiation drinking deathSundowners

Pledge John Davies, a varsity football player, died on the bed of a pickup truck at Pyramid Lake after members required three days of marathon drinking. The club was under suspension by the university at the time of death.

Alcohol: primary factor.

73) 1975
Washington State University
Tau Kappa Epsilon
Hell Week death from pneumonia

Sleep-deprived pledge John Asher died of pneumonia following a Hell Week in which he voluntarily participated in heavy exercises despite being very ill.

Alcohol use not cited in documents I have from WSU medical doctor.

74) 1975
Cheyney University of Pennsylvania (then-Cheyney State College)
Freshman-sophomore class hazing
Physical hazing

During a brutal session, an upperclassman slammed freshman Theodore Ben into a wall. He went into a coma and died. The then-college president denied all responsibility.

Alcohol use: Unknown.

Hazing due to physical violence? Yes.

75) 1976
Texas Tech University
Pi Kappa Alpha
Member death during scavenger hunt

Fraternity pledges and members lost track of member Samuel Mark Click. A search party found he had been hit and killed by a train.

Alcohol use: not cited in press reports. Unknown to me.

76) 1976
St. John’s University (New York)
Pershing Rifles
Bayonet stabbing during hazing incident

ROTC pledge Thomas Fitzgerald, a student at another school (Queens) who had applied for admission into the elite St. John’s chapter, was accidentally impaled by a bayonet blade during a stunt meant merely to intimidate him. Police said James Savino wielded the deadly blade. School and military officials refused to call the incident hazing, referring to it euphemistically as “unauthorized training.”


Alcohol use not cited in press reports. Unknown to me.

77) 1977
North Carolina Central University
Unrecognized renegade chapter
Physical hazing

A pledge died performing heavy exercises at the request of an outlaw group which falsely had claimed a connection with a national historically black fraternity.

Physical hazing a factor? Yes.

78) 1977
University of Pennsylvania
Unrecognized renegade chapter
Physical hazing

A pledge died of a heart attack after weeks of beatings and physical exertion at the bequest of a chapter which claimed it had a connection with a national historically black fraternity. The national disavowed all ties.

Physical hazing a factor? Yes.

79) 1977
University of Missouri, Rolla
Kappa Alpha Order, and Daughters of Lee
Initiation accident

A cannon misfired and exploded during a Daughters of Lee little sisters’ initiation, killing fraternity member Randall Crustals, 21.

No alcohol or physical violence.

80) 1978
Loras College (Iowa)
Gamma Psi (drinking club unrecognized by the school)
Alcohol-related death

Stephen J. McNamara died in a residence hall room following a drinking marathon with members.

Alcohol the primary factor in cause of death.

81) 1978
Alfred University (New York)
Klan Alpine fraternity
Alcohol-related hazing death

Pledge Charles (Chuck) Stenzel died following an intense drinking bout requested by local chapter members as part of Tapping Night, the school’s traditional opening night of pledging. The investigation by a local prosecuting attorney never formally was closed, but no charges ever were forthcoming.


Alcohol the primary cause of death.

82) 1978

North Carolina Central University

Renegade chapter of Omega Psi Phi

Physical exercise collapse

Nathaniel Swinson, 20, already ill, collapsed during a laborious workout demanded of him and died.  One newspaper article said the chapter had been newly chartered by the national (The Dispatch, February 8, 1978).  Pledges continued to exercise as he lay resting instead of being taken to a hospital.

83) 1979
Louisiana State University
Theta Xi
Ritual march

Bruce Wiseman was blindfolded when a car plowed into him and other pledges on a dark road in the countryside. He alone died.

84) 1979
Rutgers University (New Jersey)
Delta Phi
Alcohol-related Pledging Death

University officials ruled non-hazing a voluntary drinking bout at dawn that afterwards was a factor when pledge Richard C. Fuhs, Jr., died in an auto accident.

Alcohol contributed to the death.

85, 86) 1979
Virginia State College
Beta Phi Burgundy (female) and Wine Psi Phi (male)
Pledging-related accident

Pledge Norsha Lynn Delk died in a river drowning during a so-called cleansing ceremony and pledge Robert Etheridge died trying to rescue her.

Unknown if alcohol was present. Not cited in press clippings at time.

87) 1980
University of North Dakota
Sigma Nu
Member stabbed by member during Discipline Session

A member who was being punished with a “cherry belly” by other members disciplining him for his alleged bad attitude accidentally stabbed and killed Kingsley Davidson, 19. The member was found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

Alcohol not cited in press clippings.

88) 1980
Clarkson University (New York)
Alpha Epsilon Pi
Pledging-related accident

Pledge David Masciantonio, 19, died while jogging at 3 a.m. with other pledges when a car struck him. A school spokesman at the time said no hazing occurred in spite of the hour, but a hazing activist attacked the denial.

Alcohol use not cited in press clippings or police investigation.

89) 1980
Mississippi State University
Pi Kappa Alpha
Pledging-related accident

Member Curtis Huntley, 20, went into a coma and died after leaping from a car filled with pledges who wanted to dunk him in a mudhole, possibly to celebrate his birthday.

Alcohol use not cited in press clippings or police investigation.

90) 1980
University of Missouri
Phi Kappa Psi
Pledging-related incident then-termed horseplay

Pledge Lex Dean Batson fell to his death from a bluff following a prank in which pledges and members tried to urinate on a statue below. A family member disputed officials’ finding that the incident was horseplay, not hazing.

Alcohol use was present but I do not know if it was direct cause of death.

91) 1980
Ithaca College
Delta Kappa
Physical hazing

Pledge Joseph Parella, 18, died exercising in a steam room.

Alcohol use not cited in press clippings or police investigation.

92) 1980
University of Lowell (Massachusetts)
Delta Kappa Phi
Physical hazing

Pledge Steve Call lapsed into a coma and died following heavy exertion exercises.

Alcohol use not cited in press clippings or police investigation.

93) 1980
University of South Carolina
Sigma Nu
Alcohol-related Hazing Death

Pledge L. Barry Ballou choked to death after passing out at a ritualized drinking session attended by an alumnus and members.


Alcohol direct cause of death.

94) 1981
University of Wisconsin, Superior
FEX local fraternity
Physical hazing

Pledge Rick Cerra, 21, collapsed and died while exercising in heavy clothing on a warm day at the behest of members.

Alcohol use not cited in press clippings or police investigation.

95) 1982
Towson State University
Alpha Omega Lambda
Sleep-deprivation related accident during servitude act

Victor (Ricky) Siegel died wearing a Playboy bunny costume when he rolled his car while on a mission to get signatures from chapter alumni members.

Alcohol use not cited in press clippings or police investigation.

96, 97) 1982
University of Virginia
Sigma Chi
Alcohol-related accident during pledging

Two young pledges were killed when the rental van they were stuffed into with other pledges and members collided with another vehicle.

Alcohol involved in fatal accident.

98) 1983
Tennessee State University
Omega Psi Phi
Pledging-related drinking and physical hazing session

Pledge Vann Watts died of an alcohol overdose. A fellow pledge claimed they had been beaten and made to drink, but other pledges denied hazing had occurred.

Alcohol was a factor. Physical violence was present.

99) 1984
University of California, Davis
Kappa Alpha Order
Alcohol-related death

A truck filled with pledges and members on a mission to paint a rock with graffiti crashed on Interstate 80, killing Brad Bing, 21.

Alcohol was a factor in the fatal accident.

100) 1984
Texas A & M University
Corps of Cadets
Hazing by calisthenics

Second-year member Bruce Ward Goodrich, 20, died from heatstroke while performing strenuous exercises at 2:30 a.m. One student was found guilty of destroying evidence (a company exercise schedule, and three pleaded guilty to hazing.

Alcohol was not cited in police investigation or press coverage.

101) 1984
American International College
Zeta Chi local chapter of athletic team fraternity
Alcohol-related hazing death


Pledge Jay Lenaghan, 19, died following a drinking marathon with a blood-alcohol level of 0.48.

Alcohol was direct cause of death.

102) 1984
California State University, Chico
Tau Gamma Theta local fraternity
Alcohol-related pledging death

Pledge Jeffrey Franklin Long, 23, was killed by a fellow pledge’s speeding car. Ten pledges consumed at least two gallons of wine the night of the death. Members still maintain that the press overreacted to the death.

Alcohol was a factor in the death.

103) 1985
University of Colorado
Kappa Alpha Theta
Alcohol-related Pledging death

Under-aged Pledge Sherri Ann Clark’s blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit when she fell to her death at a party sponsored by two sororities. Fraternity and sorority national executives then and now have defined giving alcohol to pledges to be a form of hazing, but Clark’s death at the time was classified as a non-hazing alcohol-related death.

Alcohol was a factor in the death.

104) 1985
University of Missouri, Columbia
Lambda Chi Alpha
Alcohol-related Pledging-related Accident

A rushee being driven home from a rush party by a member was killed in a car accident.

Alcohol was a factor in the death.

105) 1986
Lamar University (Texas)
Omega Psi Phi with involvement by non-member
Physical hazing

Pledge Harold Thomas, 25, died on a track of heart failure when a non-member in a fraternity shirt made him exercise. Authorities ruled the death non-hazing, but the incident sparked national interest in taking strong measures against renegade chapters and members. Thomas did not have the university-mandated gradepoint average required for pledging eligibility.

Alcohol was not a factor in the death. Overexertion led to death.

106) 1986
University of Texas
Phi Kappa Psi
Alcohol-related hazing

Mark Seeberger, 18, died with a blood-alcohol level of 0.43 when members gave him rum and beer. A Travis County grand jury refused to indict anyone.

Alcohol was a factor in the death.

107) 1987
University of Mississippi
Kappa Alpha Order
Alcohol-related fall

Although the death of Harry (Skip) Cline Jr., 18, was ruled an accidental, non-hazing death by university officials, it occurred after an annual drinking party at the house in which pledges were encouraged to drink.

Alcohol may have been a factor in the death. It was present.

108) 1987
University of Arkansas
Pi Kappa Alpha
Alcohol-related pledging death

Rushee Todd Prince, an underage drinker, was killed outside a restroom by a passing vehicle during a fraternity hayride in which the chapter supplied alcohol.

Alcohol was a factor in the death.

109) 1987
Stanford University (California)
Zeta Psi
Alcohol-related Pledging Death

Rushee David Dunshee, 20, died during a fraternity party held on a lake.

Alcohol was a factor in the death.

110) 1988
Rutgers University (New Jersey)
Lambda Chi Alpha
Alcohol-related Pledging Death

Pledge James Callahan died after members set up more than two hundred mixed drinks for he and other pledges to consume.

Alcohol was primary cause of death.

111) 1988
State University of New York at Albany
Tau Kappa Epsilon
Electrocution during pre-initiation “cleansing” ritual

School and law-enforcement officials ruled that hazing did not occur when pledges and members agreed to enter a lake that, unknown to them, was laced with an electric current due to a malfunctioning cable. Pledge Bryan Higgins died in the high-voltage death trap.

Unknown to me whether alcohol was consumed in this episode.

112) 1988
University of Richmond (Virginia)
Pi Kappa Alpha
Accidental death during servitude

Matthew S. McCoy, 18, died asleep at the wheel while on a pledge errand. A school official ruled the incident was non-hazing although such pledging errands were not permitted by the international fraternity.

Alcohol was not cited in investigation of fatal accident.

113) 1988
University of Texas
Delta Tau Delta
Pledging-related Accidental Death

Member Gregg Scott Phillips, 21, fell from a cliff while trying to escape pledges intent on tossing him fully clothed into a swimming pool.

Unknown to me whether alcohol was consumed in this episode. Not mentioned in press coverage, however.

114) 1988
Rider College (New Jersey)
Theta Chi
Pledging- and Alcohol-related Death

Pledge Sean Hickey, 19, died in a car filled with pledges and a kidnapped chapter member. A 19-year-old driver received a one-year sentence for his reckless speeding at the time of the accident.

Alcohol was cited in investigation of fatal accident.

115) 1989
Morehouse College (Georgia)
Alpha Phi Alpha
Physical hazing

Pledge Joel Harris, 18, who had an enlarged heart, died after physical hazing.


116) 1990
Dickinson College (Pennsylvania)
Alpha Chi Rho
Pledging-related death

Rushee Steven Butterworth fell out a window to his death after consuming ten quick drinks at a rush party. The death was ruled accidental, not a hazing.

Alcohol was cited in investigation of fatal accidental fall.

117) 1990
Western Illinois University
Lacrosse Club
Athletic hazing


Nick Haben, a non-drinker ordinarily, died from an alcohol overdose while participating in alcohol games for a school athletic club. Several members were convicted by the courts of serving alcohol to a minor.

Alcohol was direct cause of death.

118) 1991
University of Missouri, Rolla
St. Pat’s Board
Alcohol-related hazing

Mike Nisbet, 28, choked on his own vomit during a drinking initiation into a campus local club.

Alcohol was direct cause of death.

119) 1991
University of California, Berkeley
Phi Gamma Delta
Alcohol-related pledging death

Pledge John Moncello, 18, came to the house when ordered even though he warned members he had been drinking. Unsteady, he fell to his death from a fire escape.

Alcohol was a factor in the death.

120) 1991
Trinity University (Texas)
Alcohol-related Pledging Accident

Pledge Rolland C. Pederson died when struck by a car on the side of the road while headed to a pledge retreat. Even though alcohol was involved, the school ruled the incident merely violated its alcohol policy and was not hazing.

Alcohol was present and a factor but unknown if it was primary cause of accident.

121) 1992
University of Vermont
Sigma Phi Society
Rush party alcohol-related accidental death

Rushee Jonathan S. McNamara, 17, fell from a cliff when he lost his balance while on an outing with members of the chapter he wished to pledge. His blood-alcohol level was 0.125.

Alcohol was present and a factor but unknown if it was primary cause of accident.

122) 1992
University of Virginia
Alpha Phi Alpha
Pledging-related Accidental Death

Grossly sleep-deprived pledge Gregory Batipps died at the wheel of a car. A county commonwealth attorney called the death accidental, but the victim’s father disputed that hazing had not occurred.

Physical hazing led to the exhaustion, according to the victim’s father, a doctor.

123) 1992
Frostburg State University (Maryland)
Phi Sigma Kappa
Pledging-related death

An ill and exhausted J.B. Joynt III died following a pledge sneak in which pledges rough-housed with members. The fraternity blamed the death on illness and argued that hazing had not occurred. No charges were filed, and police destroyed Joynt’s pledge book.

Unknown to me if alcohol was a factor.  Victim’s sister cited physical violence, not alcohol, during my interview with her.

124) 1993
Auburn University (Alabama)
Phi Delta Theta
Alcohol-related Death

Chad Saucier, a pledge even though he was a community college student, died from alcohol intoxication following an annual bottle exchange between members and pledges.


Alcohol was a direct cause of death.

125) 1993
Alcorn State University (Mississippi)
Alpha Phi Omega (inactive, banned chapter at the time)
Death During So-Called Prank

Leslie Ware, 18, was shot at 1 a.m. on a school light while stealing a chair. He was shot by the boyfriend of the woman who owned the chair. The surviving pledges originally said they were procuring the chair for a member who requested it, but then retracted the claim to say they were pulling a prank on their own.

I do not know if the shooter had been drinking at time of death. No press accounts mention alcohol or physical hazing.

126) 1994
Bloomsburg University (Pennsylvania)
Delta Chi
Alcohol-Related Death of Member at Hell Night

Member Terry Linn, 21, died following pledging Hell Night with a blood-alcohol count of 0.40.

Alcohol was a direct cause of death.

127) 1994
Southeast Missouri State
Kappa Alpha Psi
Physical Hazing

“Candidate for initiation” Michael Davis was pummeled to death by members. Several members served small sentences.

Physical violence was direct cause of death. Alcohol use was never mentioned in press coverage or my conversations with family members.

128) 1995
University of Texas
Texas Cowboys
Alcohol-related Death by Drowning

Gabriel Higgins drowned in the Colorado River after participating in silly drinking games at the initiation party on the ranch of an alumnus who did not partake in the games.

Alcohol and possibly exhaustion from exercise during drinking games contributed to the fatal accident.

129) 1996
University of Virginia
Pi Kappa Phi
Alcohol-related Death Following Rush Function

Member Brian Cook, 21, died in an auto accident following a rush event he himself had chaired. A fraternity brother was convicted of driving under the influence.

Alcohol was a factor in the accident.

130) 1997
Texas A & M
Phi Gamma Delta
Asthma attack during pledging activities

A Brazos County grand jury brought no charges against members who soaked a pledge with water on a chilly January day. Although Trey Walker was cleaning the house, members insisted no hazing had occurred. Walker’s family argued hazing was a factor in his death.

Alcohol was not cited as used at time of death, according to a family member.

131, 132) 1997
UCLA (California)
Lambda Chi Alpha
Accidental drowning during Drinking Event During Pledging

Pledges Brian T. Sanders and Brian Pearce died during a pledge and member outing in which alcohol was served pledges.

Alcohol likely contributed to the two deaths.

133) 1997
North Carolina State University
Tau Kappa Epsilon
Drowning Following Initiation

Steven Velazquez, 19, died when he and other members and new members dove into a lake for a traditional swim following the initiation of pledges. A 911 call reporting the accident said all had been “roughing around” when the death occurred. Hazing was denied by participants.

Unknown if alcohol was a factor in drowning.

134) 1997
Louisiana State University
Sigma Alpha Epsilon
Alcohol-related Pledging death

Benjamin Wynne, 20, died at the start of the school year while celebrating his acceptance as a pledge. His alcohol level was nearly six times the legal limit.

Alcohol was the cause of death.

135) 1997
Clarkson University and State University of New York at Potsdam
Theta Chi
Alcohol-related hazing

Binaya Oja, 17, died from alcohol intoxication on bid night.

Alcohol was the cause of death.

136) 1997
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Phi Gamma Delta
Alcohol-related Pledging Death

Pledge Scott Krueger, 18, went into a coma and died at a pledge party.  Charges were filed against the chapter instead of members, and the chapter merely dissolved with little or no consequence to individuals. The school settled with Krueger’s parents for $6 million.

Alcohol contributed significantly to the death.  He was removed from life support due to alcohol-related damage to his body.

137) 1998
University of Washington
Delta Kappa Epsilon
Suicide a possible link to hazing incident

John Laduca, 18, a newly initiated member who had endured hazing but also had personal problems, killed himself in the house. The national fraternity said the personal problems, not hazing, contributed to Laduca’s suicide. Laduca’s family insisted the hazing and sleep deprivation might have clouded their son’s judgment.

Unknown to me if alcohol was present during the suicide itself.

Important Declaration:  Although media accounts have linked suicides on this page to hazing, it is important for journalists and the public alike to recognize that depression is the most common link to suicides of all populations.  I think it important to report when the parents of victims believe hazing is the cause and quote them accurately, but it is also important to note that it is one thing to note there is a huge difference between an alleged link between hazing/bullying and listing it as “the cause” of such deaths. I try to err on the side of caution. HN

138) 1998
University of Michigan
Phi Delta Theta and Chi Omega
Fall of Pledge

Courtney Cantor had a small amount of alcohol and possibly a date-rape drug in her system as she plunged from a dormitory to her death.  In some ways, her death was a mystery in that her final movements were unknown. However, both national organizations strongly insist on alcohol-free pledging.

A small amount of alcohol was present in the young woman’s system.



139) 1998
University of Mississippi
Sigma Chi

Dudley R. Moore IV died by hanging. He had been hazed prior to dying, but the family and university blamed personal problems, not the chapter, as the main cause for Moore’s actions.

Unknown to me if alcohol was present during the suicide itself.

Important Declaration:  Although media accounts have linked suicides on this page to hazing, it is important for journalists and the public alike to recognize that depression is the most common link to suicides of all populations.  I think it important to report when the parents of victims believe hazing is the cause and quote them accurately, but it is also important to note that it is one thing to note there is a huge difference between an alleged link between hazing/bullying and listing it as “the cause” of such deaths. I try to err on the side of caution. HN

140) 1998
University of Texas
Phi Kappa Sigma
Alcohol-related death

Member Jack L. Ivey, Jr., 23, died after pledges played a drinking game with him. His blood-alcohol level was 0.40.

Alcohol was cause of death.

141) 1999
Iona College (New York)
Sigma Tau Omega
Alcohol-related death

Pledge Kevin Lawless, 18, died during pledging from an alcohol overdose. Seven members were fined and given a one-year conditional discharge.

Alcohol was cause of death.

142) 1999
Ferris State University
Knights of College Leadership (disbanded from former national fraternity)
Alcohol death

Pledge Stephen Petz, 19, died during an initiation that was videotaped. Members were convicted for serving alcohol to a minor. Michigan later passed a state hazing law.

Alcohol was cause of death.

143) 1999
University of Richmond
First-year class orientation tradition
Drowning accident

First-year student Donnie Lindsey Jr. drowned after jumping into a campus lake in an unsanctioned ritual following a university-sanctioned signing of the school’s honor code.
No hazing charges were brought against event organizers.

No mention of alcohol was in press coverage.  It is unlikely given the circumstances, however.

144) 2000
University of Georgia
Alpha Tau Omega
Road trip death

Pledge sneaks—events in which pledges kidnap members—have widely been condemned by national organizations. Ben Folsom Grantham III died on an apparent pledge sneak. The university condemned the activity but did not rule hazing had occurred.

Unknown to me if alcohol was a factor.

145) 2000
Chico State University (California)
Pi Kappa Phi
Alcohol death
Pledge Adrian Heideman died after being encouraged to drink. Some members, including chapter officers, received a light jail sentence.

Alcohol was cause of death. Adrian and mom below.adrianandedie

146) 2001
Indiana University
Theta Chi
Accidental rush death

Seth Korona died from the effects of a head injury contracted after consuming beer during a keg stand.

Alcohol was a contributing factor but other factors also were involved (previous illness).


147) 2001
Tennessee State University
Omega Psi Phi
Pledging death

A coroner wrote that Joseph T. Green died during an exercise session suggested by members.

Physical hazing was a cuase of death.

148) 2001
University of Miami
Kappa Sigma
Accidental drowning of pledge (hazing was ruled out until a May 2002 statement by attorney reopened case)

chadmeredweb copyChad Meredith

Chad Meredith, 18, of Indianapolis, drowned in Lake Osceola while with two Kappa Sigma brothers. A judgment in a civil suit awarded the family $14 million from those present at Meredith’s death.

Alcohol and inaction of brothers present contributed to the death.

149) 2001
University of Minnesota, Duluth
Men’s and women’s rugby initiation
Death ruled an accident

Although Ken Christiansen had been drinking at an initiation party and veteran members scrawled pictures on their faces, he died of an accident when he fell dead drunk into a creek and died, according to a police investigation.

Alcohol in freezing temperatures and failure of other athletes to montor were all factors in the death.

150) 2002
Alfred University
Zeta Beta Tau
Suicide after beating for revealing hazing tradition

Member Ben Klein who was beaten after turning his chapter in for what he considered hazing and later was found dead in a creek near the fraternity house. State investigators ruled Klein’s death a suicide.

benklein-smSubstance abuse was present night of death.

Important Declaration:  Although media accounts have linked suicides on this page to hazing, it is important for journalists and the public alike to recognize that depression is the most common link to suicides of all populations.  I think it important to report when the parents of victims believe hazing is the cause and quote them accurately, but it is also important to note that it is one thing to note there is a huge difference between an alleged link between hazing/bullying and listing it as “the cause” of such deaths. I try to err on the side of caution. HN

151, 152) 2002
San Diego State University
Tau Kappa Epsilon
High-speed  Pledging-related truck crash

Two males associated with the SDSU Tekes, on suspension for hazing, were killed when thrown from their truck as pledges were being taken somewhere from campus. The dead were identified as Brian Jimenez and Zachary Jacobs, both 18. An angry mother demanded to know why pledges had been taken out when the chapter was under suspension.

Exact circumstances unknown to me.

153, 154) 2002
California State, Los Angeles
Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority,
Drowning but hazing disputed by chapter and family survivors

The Associated Press reports that the mother of a drowning victim and her friend may have been partaking in a sorority ritual. The students Kenitha Saafir, 24,  and Kristin High, 22, died in waters off Playa del Rey, according to police officers contacted by AP.   High may have been performing an unsanctioned hazing ritual for Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, according to her mother’s allegations. Those present denied hazing occurred. The family has announced a civil suit to come. No hazing charges have ever been levied, however.

Alcohol or direct physical violence never mentioned in press coverage or attorney claims.


155) 2002
University of Nevada, Reno
Pi Kappa Alpha
Drowning Death

Pledge Albert (A.J.) Santos drowned in a University of Nevada campus lake. He was a pledge of Pi Kappa Alpha. There were no arrests. A district attorney refused to call it hazing but instead a prank.

Alcohol contributed to the death.

156) 2002
University of Maryland
Phi Sigma Kappa
Alcohol Link Investigated in Bid Night death (February)

Daniel Reardon, 19, was found in a coma in January at the Phi Sigma Kappa house following Bid Night. Authorities and his family blame an alcohol drinking tradition associated with pledging for his death. No hazing charges were filed.

Alcohol was cause of death.

157, 158, 159, 160) 2003
Yale University
Delta Kappa Epsilon
Death after Night of Chapter “Ride” into New York (ruled accident and non-hazing but WAS pledging-related)

Following an old custom of pledges taking a senior fraternity member on a “ride” into New York City, a caravan of brothers and pledges returned to New Haven. Near Bridgeport, one of the DKE vehicles hit a semi that had broken down.  Four young men were killed and five were injured. Yale sophomores Nicholas Grass, Kyle Burnat, Andrew Dwyer and junior Sean Fenton perished. An alumnus of that fraternity chapter in 2011 angrily said a scavenger hunt should not be called hazing.

This seems to be a case of hidden harm. While the four deaths occurred after a scavenger hunt, the driver himself was not intoxicated. Alcohol was consumed by all or some of the deceased but alcohol was not the direct cause of their death.

161) 2003
Plattsburgh State (State University of New York)
Psi Epsilon Chi (suspended and unrecognized at time)
Hazing convictions

Following the death of 18-year-old Plattsburgh State University freshman
Walter Dean Jennings, 11 fraternity brothers were convicted of crimes and served smaller sentences. Police stated that Jennings apparently died of swelling of the brain related to water intoxication.


Some members had been drinking night of the death. Jennings died of chemical inbalance due to coerced water drinking.

162) 2003
Rochester Institute of Technology (New York)
Kappa Phi Theta
Pledging-related death

Jerry Hopkins, 36,  a fraternity pledge attending the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, died on a campout with the Kappa Phi Theta fraternity in Pennsylvania’s Allegany National Forest. Autopsy was inconclusive.

Circumstances unknown to me.

163) 2003
Plymouth State University
Sigma Kappa Omega sorority (a local that formerly was a national sorority)
Pledging-related death in car crash


Pledge Kelly Nester of Coventry, R.I., died following the crash of Jeep Grand Cherokee. 10 pledges were stuffed in the Cherokee and on the floor without seatbelt restraints to protect them, police determined. A lawyer for the driver of the vehicle denies that any swerving or hazing occurred. A civil suit has been launched.

Unknown to me if any pledges had been drinking. The driver was not cited for an alcohol violation, however. The direct cause was the accident itself.

164) 2003
Bradley University
Phi Kappa Tau
Rush-related death

Robert Schmalz, 22, died following a rush event in which he consumed a lethal amount of alcohol. He was a member, not a pledge.

Alcohol contributed to the death.

165) 2004
University of Colorado
Chi Psi

Gordon Bailey, 18, died after pledges consumed massive amounts of alcohol.


Alcohol was the cause of death. Members delayed calling 911 for hours.

166) 2004
University of Oklahoma
Sigma Chi
Alcohol death of pledge

Blake Hammontree was found dead in the house at 10:30 a.m. following a function at the house. Family called incident hazing, but coroner termed death accidental.


Alcohol was the cause of death.

167) 2004
Masonic Lodge (New York)
Accidental shooting death of new member

A shooting during a bizarre “William Tell” ritual with live ammunition at Southside Masonic Lodge 493 killed William James, 47.

168) 2004
Occupational Hazing
Denton County, Texas
Republic Energy Drilling Company

In 2004, a fatal occupational initiation in Denton County, Texas, led to a jury trial that ended with a 38-year-old drilling rig hazer receiving an 18-year prison sentence—only two years less than the maximum penalty the law allowed. 23-year-old Shawn Davis, a new employee of Republic Energy Drilling Company, was hooked to a cable by veteran workers and then accidentally tossed and dragged to his death.

169) 2005
Chico State University (California)
Chi Tau (college-banned chapter)
Hazing death


Eight men were charged with crimes in the death of pledge Matthew Carrington, 21. Convictions included one felony count for a sentence of one year in prison.

Members who demanded Matthew drink water to the point of death were heavily intoxicated.

170) 2005
Lambda Phi Epsilon
University of California Irvine
Pledge beating death and coverup

Pledge Kenny Luong of Cal Poly Pomona died in August after competing in a football game with other pledges against members of the Irvine chapter.  There were many more members than pledges in the roughly played game.

171) 2005
University of Texas
Lambda Phi Epsilon
Alcohol death of a pledge

Phanta “Jack” Phoummarath died of acute alcohol intoxication during a fraternity event. Toxicology ruling came January 2006.

Alcohol was direct cause of death.





172) 2006                                   Jack
University of Texas
Sigma Alpha Epsilon
Police said hazing may have been a factor in the death of pledge Tyler Cross who died in a fall while under the influence of alcohol.

173) 2006
Limestone College (South Carolina)
Athletic party death

The death of athlete Zach Dunlevy received little national attention although many elements of the definition of hazing were present when he died of an alcohol overdose at a party attended by the school’s athletes.  The college was content to let this death slip under the radar screen with as little public scrutiny as possible. See

174) 2007
Stephen F. Austin University (Texas)
Tau Kappa Epsilon
Fraternity party death

The alcohol-related death of Nikolas Gallegos, 18, at a fraternity party led to a letter to the student paper by a relative who pleaded that no fingers be pointed at anyone in the death. A school official declared the incident non-hazing, but circumstances of the death pointed to clear violations of the school’s own hazing code.

175) 2007
Rider University (New Jersey)
Phi Kappa Tau

Gary Devercelly Jr. died of alcohol poisoning during a hazing incident at Rider University. He was a baseball player from California prior to coming to Rider.

Alcohol was direct cause of death.

176) 2008
University of Delaware
Sigma Alpha Mu
Hazing Death

Brett Griffin, 18, of Kendall Park, N.J died in Newark, DE. The Delta Lambda chapter of Sigma Alpha Mu has been charged with midemeanor hazing by the Delaware Attorney General’s office, the Associated Press reported.
Newark Police have charged University of Delaware students, all members or pledges of Sigma Alpha Mu, had already been charged as individuals by Newark police with alcohol and drug offenses stemming from the investigation of the death of Brett Griffin. However, police emphasized the individuals have no links to the death of Griffin. Griffin, died at a party in November.

Alcohol was direct cause of death.

177) 2008
Wabash College (Indiana)
Delta Tau Delta
Family member blames death on hazing

The attorney for the family of 18-year-old Johnny D. Smith of Tucson, Arizona who died of alcohol poisoning took the unusual step of calling a press conference calling for investigation of possible hazing. Smith’s grandmother, Monya Ballah, Tucson, wrote that her grandson told her pledges were being pressured to drink alcohol in an e-mail to The Indianapolis Star.

Alcohol was direct cause of death.

178) 2008
Lenoir Rhyne (North Carolina)
Theta Chi
Hazing denied by school but events fit Theta Chi definition of hazing


Police complained that university officials waited two days before asking them to investigate the death of Harrison Kowiak, 18, in what has been called a physical initiation game. The death has not officially been ruled hazing, but the father of Kowiak said the event certainly met the definition of hazing. The mother of Kowiak became an anti-hazing advocate.
Earlier in the year the Lenoir-Rhyne women’s soccer team was videotaped in a hazing incident involving alcohol.

Alcohol not a factor. Death caused by head injury. Lianne Kowiak has become an activist and winner of the Hank Nuwer Antihazing Hero Award.

179) 2008
Utah State
Sigma Nu (with Chi Omega participation)
Hazing (alcohol given to male pledges by sorority members)

The death of Michael Starks sent several fraternity and sorority members to jail in 2009.
Chi Omega and Sigma Nu were suspended following the death.

Alcohol was direct cause of death.

180) 2008
Cal Poly(California)
Sigma Alpha Epsilon

The death of pledge           

Carson Starkey, 18, on December 2, 2008 of alcohol poisoning resulted in convictions of members. His parents are now activists.

Alcohol was direct cause of death.

181) 2009
SUNY Geneseo
Pigs Drinking Club (sub-rosa organization)

Arman Partamian, a recent Eagle Scout, died from an alcohol overdose.

Alcohol was direct cause of death.

182) 2009
Prairie View A & M (Texas)
Phi Beta Sigma
Alleged hazing


The parents of Donnie Wade Jr., 20, claim that an exercise session in which their son died was a direct result of hazing.

Physical abuse and overexertion contributed to the death.

183) 2010
Radford University Tau Kappa Epsilon (Virginia)
Hazing Arrests

The 2010 death of Samuel Mason was called a hazing incident and subsequently resulted thus far in seven arrests in 2011. Punishments were unusually light. A $1,000 fine given most of those charged.
Alcohol was direct cause of death.

184, 185) 2010
East Carolina University
Delta Sigma Theta
Traffic deaths allegedly from sleep deprivationVictoria

A 2012 lawsuit by the mother of a deceased sorority pledge at East Carolina University maintained that the 2010 deaths of her daughter and a second pledge were directly caused by sleep deprivation due to hazing. East Carolina State University Delta Sigma Theta pledges Victoria Carter, 20, and Briana Latrice Gather, 20, died in a car accident.


186) 2011

United States Marines

Military Hazing

Suicide after mental and physical abuse.

Lance Corporal Harry Lew was a suicide by a self-inflicted wound after fellow Marines punished him for falling asleep on sentry duty. A judge punished participants but found cause to doubt that the hazing was directly responsible for Lew taking his life.
187) 2011
Cornell University (New York)
Sigma Alpha Epsilon
Hazing of member by pledges

The mother of member George Desudunes blamed SAE over allegations this member’s death was the result of pressure to drink put upon him by the chapter’s pledges.

Alcohol was direct cause of death.

188) 2011
Florida A & M Band
Hazing under investigation after death

Band member Robert Champion died on a bus in an incident police have called hazing-related.  One participant was sentenced to six years in prison. All others received probation.

Physical violence caused the death. Alcohol not a factor.

189) 2012

United States Marines

Suicide after Physical hazing

Chinese-American Danny Chen allegedly was targeted for hazing in his outfit and killed himself.

190) 2012
Vincennes University (Indiana)
Hazing death

The alcohol-related death of William (Will) Torrance at Delta Gamma Iota (formerly Sigma Phi Epsilon) occurred on Bid Night, hauntingly recalling the death of Chuck Stenzel at Alfred University, a hazing death on “Tapping Night” (tapped for membership) that inspired mother Eileen Stevens to form the antihazing group C.H.U.C.K. (Committee to Halt Useless College Killings)

Alcohol was direct cause of death.

191) 2012
Madison, North Dakota
High School athletics hazing prank
Murder as revenge for athletic hazing

Madison High School graduate Carl Ericcson, 73, received life in prison for the revenge killing of one-time Madison athlete Norman Johnson who Ericsson claimed had hazed him as a schoolboy by flipping a jock over his face. Johnson was shot at his own home.

192) 2012
Fresno State University (California)
Theta Chi alcohol-related hazing

Theta Chi pledge Philip Dhanens, a 350-pound former football player, died following a weekend binge. He died at a hospital where he had been taken for assistance.

193) 2012
Easton, Pennsylvania
Lafayette College
Kappa Delta Rho and other fraternity chapters visited by victim prior to his death

The president of Lafayette College said that a student,  Everett Glenn, who died after drinking at a banned chapter of Kappa Delta Rho. Members of KDR
denied that recruiting had occurred, according to the Lafayette student newspaper.  Earlier in 2012, an additional Lafayette College student died after consuming a lethal amount of alcohol on his birthday–a non-hazing death.

194) 2012
DeKalb, Illinois
Northern Illinois University
Pi Kappa Alpha


The alcohol-related death of pledge David Bogenberger was hazing-related, according to an investigative report by Dane Placko of WFLD-TV, Fox 32. Twenty-two Pi Kappa Alpha members were convicted of various misdemeanor charges.

195) 2012

Chico State University (California)

Sigma Pi;

Alcohol-related incident

The administration of Chico State cited hazing as a cause and suspended all Greek groups for a semester following the birthday celebration death of Mason Sumnicht. Researchers have not heretofore listed the fairly common birthday deaths as a type of hazing. This is very likely a first time a birthday death was linked to hazing.

196) 2012
University of Idaho
Lambda Chi Alpha
Drowning death

A detective investigating the death of pledge Preston Vorhauer ruled thatit was a non-hazing death when the pledge died swimming in a deep reservoir accompanied by
fraternity members who failed to keep him afloat when the victim faltered. The detective ignored my FOIA request. However, the national fraternity and school clearly have policies forbidding asking a pledge to attempt a risky stunt such as this one. The school was content to let the detective’s conclusion stand, but members of the Chad Meredith family who lost Chad in a similar drowning incident have denounced the detective’s conclusion.

197) 2012


Band hazing claimed by family

Sleep deprivation death at wheel

In a lawsuit, the family of Marcus Thomas, 19, blamed his death in an auto accident on his lack of sleep due to Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia fraternity of America hazing.

198) 2112

High Point University (North Carolina)

Delta Sigma Phi

Concussion leading to aspiration of stomach contents, then death.

The parents of Robert Eugene Tipton, Jr. have sued the pledge-master of Delta Sigma Phi, son of school president Nido Qubein, alleging that an alleged attack on their son was during a hazing session gone violent, mainly by a single member who allegedly attacked Tipton in a rage. Also involved in the suit is a university security officer. The parents allege a coverup and destruction of evidence.

199, 200) 2013
Virginia State University
Petersburg, Virginia
Men of Honor Drownings

19-year-old Marvell Edmondson and Jauwan M. Holmes, 19, drowned after an initiation similar to the 1979 drowning that took two lives at Virginia State.This is from the New York Times: “The four men charged with hazing were linked to the “Men of Honor” group, police said. They include James A. Mackey, 35 of Midlothian; freshman Cory D. Baytop, 26 of Newport News; and freshman Eriq K. Benson, 19, of Quinton.” Police later charged Charles E Zollicoffer, 29. Alcohol does not appear to be a factor.

201) 2013
San Francisco State University (California)
Lambda Phi Epsilon alcohol-related hazing

SFSU officials alleged that an April death from an alcohol overdose qualified as hazing. The dead youth was Peter Tran.

202) 2013
Boston University
Boston, Massachusetts
Sigma Alpha Mu
A national officer of Sigma Alpha Mu said a “meet and greet” party (in the words of BU Dean Kenneth Elmore) for six persons was not hazing when Anthony Barksdale II died from an alcohol overdose.  In my opinion,  a “meet and greet party” for new members/new pledges is a violation of the national’s hazing policy and similar to past Tapping Night deaths.

203) 2013
Baruch College
New York, New York
Pi Delta Psi

“Mike” Deng died while being body slammed from all directions by 20 to 30 members at an off-campus site. He was blindfolded. His tormentors waited an hour before calling 911.  Alcohol was a factor.

204) 2014
Penn State, Altoona
Phi Sigma Kappa
Altoona, Pennsylvania
Father alleges hazing practices as pledge and member led son to suicide

Media accounts quoting the father of a suicide as putting blame on hazing practices of Phi Sigma Kappa for causing his son Marquise Braham to leap to his death over Spring Break in March. Fraternity members have denied the father’s charges through statements of their attorneys. These are the father’s remarks given at his son’s church eulogy.

205) 2014
California State University
Northridge, California
Pi Kappa Phi

The family of Armando Villa claims hazing was what led to the death of their son, a CSUN pledge they claim was  left barefooted in the rugged Angeles Mountains and left to find his way home.  My records show that Villa is the second pledge to die in the same mountains on a fraternity dropoff. The first was Fred Bronner of Chi Chi Chi.

206) 2014
Clemson University
Clemson, SC
Sigma Phi Epsilon

Although an investigating sheriff at first ruled no hazing was involved in the death of pledge Tucker Hipps from a fall from a bridge, he was on an early-morning run with chapter members and pledges. The activity is generally outlawed as hazing by most national Greek groups.

207) 2014

University of Albany

Albany, NY

Zeta Beta Tau (a local chapter, not the national fraternity chapter

Trevor Duffy died from acute alcohol poisoning after being convinced to chug 60 ounces of vodka.

208) 2014

West Virginia University

Morgantown University

Kappa Sigma

Nathan Burch died with a BAC of .493 following a hazing incident in which he was given at least one bottle of hard liquor.

209) 2014
Texas Tech University
Lubbock, TX
Alpha Sigma Phi

Dalton Debrick, 18 and an incoming freshman, died of alcohol poisoning while pledging the Alpha Sigma Phi colony.

210) 2014
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, NE

Clayton Real, 18, died of alcohol poisoning following an event that resulted in four individuals facing charges.

211) 2015
University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC
Pi Kappa Alpha

Investigators have been trying to determine if there is a connection between a late night chapter St. Patrick’s party and the sudden death of Charlie Terreni, Jr. due to alcohol poisoning. All national fraternities regard the giving of alcohol to underage pledges to be a form of hazing. The young man died of alcohol poisoning at a St. Patrick’s Day party. A previous death of a newcomer to a campus group at the University of Missouri, Rolla, was considered to be hazing-related. After a great deal of thought and correspondence with fraternity leaders, I have decided to include the death of Mr. Terreni, Jr. on the list.


Important Declaration:  Although media accounts (or parental declarations) have linked suicides on this page to hazing, it is important for journalists and the public alike to recognize that depression is the most common link to suicides of all populations.  I think it important to report when the parents of victims believe hazing is the cause and quote them accurately, but it is also important to note that it is one thing to note  there is a huge difference between an alleged link between hazing/bullying and listing it as “the cause” of such deaths. I try to err on the side of caution. HN

This list contains the minimum number of deaths from such causes. The section of the title “of hazing, initiation, and Pledging-Related Accidents” is used because of legal advice due to strong attempts by interest groups to disassociate themselves from certain episodes described below. In my books I have tried to reserve the term “hazing” for those incidents that have been so identified by state and institutional authorities. If a state hazing law has not been invoked (or a grand jury failed to indict), or if a school or victim’s family said hazing did not occur even though the fatal occurrence closely matched standard definitions of hazing, I use the term “Initiation and Pledging-related Accident” instead of the term “hazing.” Obviously, even with 44 laws on the books, the definition of hazing is often disputed by individuals and their organizations–and even
occasionally by grieving families of deceased pledges who prefer to think their loved ones died following “horseplay.” At the same time, some examined deaths due to alcohol use may not fall under the category og hazing. Some deaths may reveal other hazing-related deaths, including the deaths of members at the hands of other members disciplining them, deaths of members during pledge sneaks (pledges taking harsh action against members), and other less typical actions resulting in deaths.

  1. a) Note: since no official statistics of hazing deaths are kept by a legitimate government agency, this clearinghouse of deaths reported in the United States relies on published accounts (newspapers, university histories, other books, and in one case [1838] a family history). Since state laws include felonies for hazing in some states, it is my hope that Uniform Crime Reports or another legitimate federal agency will take over tracking of deaths and felony hazing (along with death cases in initiations where the actual conviction is other than hazing such as serving alcohol to a minor or manslaughter). There also is, in my opinion, a need for more surveys conducted in a responsible manner to track actual incidents of hazing in such groups as collegiate fraternal organizations, bands and athletic teams. For example, it clearly can be shown that the number of articles reporting sexual assaults in high school athletic organizations is up, but there is no way of knowing whether or not those numbers are actually increasing unless surveys are taken or a legitimate agency tracks these. Until a legitimate agency tracks data, media reports of incidents are the only means to keep the public from going back to the days when deaths and serious injuries during hazing were shrugged off by institutional spokespersons as “accidental” or “isolated” cases.
  2. b) Judging from correspondence I’ve received, the general public believes hazing deaths in colleges are higher in number than can be documented. These deaths below can be verified although information related to several early deaths is particularly limited.. I try hard to add any information that might cast doubt on whether a death was actually hazing caused or where the death cause was disputed by a family, members, an educational institution, or an organization.
  3. c) I am open to listening to suggestions and to criticism that can make this a better site. My contention is that a legitimate government agency needs to take over the task of recording deaths and criminal hazing statistics.  Surveys and accurate crime reports are needed to determine whether serious  hazing incidents are increasing or decreasing The number of media articles reporting hazing is clearly higher than ever but that may simply indicate parents, victims, institutions, teams and fraternal organizations are more educated on the subject and thus more likely to come forward when an incident occurs. My position is that even one death a year is one too many, and that prevention is everyone’s responsibility–including that of a potential victim and that of the organization he or she is joining.–Hank Nuwer