U.S. Hazing Deaths Database

                           Hank Nuwer,  Nuwer short bio
 
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Deaths Through 2017 above. Info from Hank Nuwer. Illustration: The Economist*.  Note: 19 additional deaths occurred 2018-2021 (none in 2020, however). My research has found annual deaths from 1949 to 1951. NONE in 1952. At least one per year 1953 to 1957.   None in 1958.   Therefore, at least one hazing death each year from 1949 to 2021 WITH THE EXCEPTION of 1952, 1958, and 2020.  –HN
Parent activists meet in 2018. Moderator Hank Nuwer (orange tie) was keynote speaker. Photo by Malgorzata Wroblewska-Nuwer

Last edit on 6/20/2021.  New cases historically will be added. The numbering will change.

At least one U.S. school, club or organization hazing death has been reported every year from 1959 to 2019 and now again in 2021, according to my research. Barring some additional data, 1958 and 2020* were the last years free of reported hazing deaths in U.S. and North American schools. (2020 lack of deaths is during a year in which pledging and sports schedules were “on hold” due to the pandemic). Note re 2020: It takes schools or families sometimes more than one year to find facts that make a death labeled a hazing death. Thus, a death in 2020 might not be reported until 2021.–Hank Nuwer, Emeritus professor, Franklin College. Hon. Doctor of Letters, State University of New York

Rahat Jahil,    Cornell police close case. Close call at Iowa Acacia, Trial in France over Death,   LSU suicide under investigation;   LSU close call; Clay Muehlstein back in jail; U.Conn Fiji expelled after 2020 close call. And a hazing death in Belgium: Sanda Dias at K.U. Leuven. Cheerleader death in Phuket 

1) 1838

Franklin Seminary (Kentucky)

Class Hazing

John Butler Groves died in a hazing incident, according to a family history. The school’s records were destroyed in an unrelated fire. This is the information I was able to come up with using public grave and ancestry searches–Moderator Hank Nuwer.

A John B. Groves is listed as born October 31. 1819 in Simpson County, Kentucky. His death date is listed as August 7, 1838 in Franklin, Kentucky, Simpson County. He is listed as being buried in Groves Cemetery (likely a plot on family land).  

The information was first reported in Hank Nuwer’s “Broken Pledges” (Longstreet Press, 1990). From a letter from a Groves descendent to Eileen Stevens, Committee to Halt Useless College Killings, that she let me read in 1989. The female letter writer (name withheld) wrote that John’s grieving family never sent another child to a similar school.

Using newspaper sources, I found a possible family member in Michael Groves who was born in the 1790s and died around or in December 1885 (The Big Sandy News; Louisa, KY, December 31, 1885). I do not know if they were related. Simpson County itself was carved out of other counties. The town of Franklin was located on a railroad line (making it appealing for parents to send children to such a seminary during the nineteenth century). Hazing at male and even female seminaries was common and even celebrated in printed school “customs books” that celebrated “traditions.” 

I searched copies of the Franklin Favorite newspaper and a Kentucky gazetteer trying to find hard, newsworthy data to support the relative’s claim. I will continue to do so. Link to Franklin, Simpson County, Kentucky (in 1874 listing for one male seminary, one female seminary, six churches of various denominations). I found a seminary mentioned in the Laws of Kentucky for sale of the seminary land and building. HN

Know something more about John Butler Groves? Write me, the moderator. 

2) 1847

Amherst College (Massachusetts)

Class Hazing

President Hitchcock, below, was one of the first USA college presidents to express opposition to 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. The death is included in Nuwer’s Wrongs of Passage. See also article below from Berkshire Eagle dated Nov. 5, 1863 clipping_15952902 Direct link to Berkshire Eagle reference to death.

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First meeting of PUSH: a poster of deceased children.

The red square represented future victims. Since the group’s founding, the red square has been, sadly, filled with numerous deaths. See 2017-Present below. 

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3) 1873 Cornell University (New York)

Kappa Alpha Society

Walkabout without torches in gorge country

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 in spite of admission by the perpetrators during a coroner’s inquiry. Leggett’s death is chronicled in an in-depth investigative feature in Hank Nuwer’s 2018 book “Hazing: Destroying Young Lives” (Indiana University Press). The first two Greek hazing deaths on record in the USA were Cornell KAS chapters (recently made dormant at that campus) in 1873 and 1899. Here is the video account of “Young Mort’s” death.

Gen. Leggett buried his namesake who was the first male to die pledging a fraternity. His son’s choice of chapter was the Kappa Alpha Society at Cornell.

(Photo) The Charles W. Wason Collection at Cornell University was founded by the young hazer (Wason) who fell to earth with Mortimer Leggett.

4) 1884

United States Naval Academy, Annapolis

Allegations of physical hazing

Final cause was alleged to be aggravated hernis.

Newspapers prior to 1900 contained numerous references to hazing practices at Annapolis such as jamming a newcomer into a barrel and pushing while inside for great distances. The older cadets also tossed newcomers into the air on blankets. These were often done off-campus as soon as newcomer arrived in the area. Fred Schwatka Strang was the subject of nationwide claims that his death of hernia complications was hazing-related.

 

5) Item removed. See #23 under disputed hazing deaths.

6) 1892

Yale University (Connecticut)

Delta Kappa Epsilon

A blindfolded student named Wilkins Ruskin 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.

Pittsburgh Press, June 7, 1892

7) 1894

Cornell University (New York)

Bystander death (deadly prank during class hazing)

A non-Cornell bystander accidentally died during a class prank involving deliberate use of chlorine gas. The death of Mrs. Henrietta Jackson is chronicled in an in-depth investigative feature in Hank Nuwer’s 2018 book “Hazing: Destroying Young Lives” (Indiana University Press).

8) 1898

Decatur High School, Illinois

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. Jones died a few days later of a spinal injury.

9) 1899

Cornell University (New York)

Kappa Alpha Society (Now “dormant” Chapter)

Pledge Edward F. Berkeley drowned while completing a pledging errand. The death is described in Hazing by Hank Nuwer (2018). Yes, the 1899 death was by the same Cornell chapter and almost the exact ritu

al that killed Mortimer Leggett in 1873. While the father of Leggett forgave the hazers and even accepted KAS membership in his son’s memory, Berkeley’s father was bitter and unforgiving. Because Berkeley’s wife was in very poor health, the news was kept from her for quite some time. Like Leggett, courts at the time almost always considered only harsh physical hazing to actually BE hazing. Thus, the Leggett and Berkeley deaths were written off as unfortunate accidents. Cornell Kappa Society lost two pledges and were judged blameless. This would be repeated over and over right up to the present day. Some newspaper accounts were lurid with embellished, devilish details made up. 

10) 1899

Lawrenceville, New Jersey High School

Hazing (a form of physical hazing known locally as piling)

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]; Harrisburg Telegraph, November 23, 1899].  View a clipping here

11) 1900

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Class Scrap with president present

Hugh C. Moore died following a snapped neck in a traditional fight between first- and second-year students. Click here for a very defensive student version of the death and a photo of Hugh Chadwick Moore.

See also Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, November 16, 1900.

Henry Pritchett

Read the remarks by President Henry Pritchett. He acknowledges being present at the sport where Moore died. “…No one is responsible and which no one could foresee” were his banal comments to console the student body after Mr. Moore’s death. A second student was also injured after being roughed up. However, to his credit, he ended the brutal “Cane Rush,” a type of class warfare.–Moderator Hank Nuwer

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Order The Hazing Reader by Hank Nuwer

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12) 1900

United States Military Academy (New York)

Hazing

Although the death of plebe Oscar Booz was considered illness-caused by a committee of inquiry, members of the U.S. House of Representatives on the committee determined that he also had been hazed maliciously by upperclassmen. He most certainly had been singled out for abuse, including forced to chug pure tabasco sauce. See “Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing” for a complete description of the abuse. Future general Douglas MacArthur was also savagely hazed. 

13) 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” 

[Above: The Blaine [Kansas] News, November 9, 1900

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14) 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.  Newspaper account link

15) 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.

16) 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 and tortured him. Canning died of his injuries. The three were Alva Day, 11; Raymond Adams, 10; Raymond Waterman, 9. The boys told police they were trying to haze like college men.

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17) 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. –Moderator. See online The Leavenworth Times, “Hazing Results in Death,” April 6, 1904. Headstone link.

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Order Wrongs of Passage

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18) 1905

Kenyon College (Ohio)

Delta Kappa Epsilon

Accidental Death Following a Hazing

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.

pierson
Stuart Pierson

19) 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.

UNDER FURTHER  REVIEW: NOT INCLUDED: UNDER INVESTIGATION. Death of James Branch. 1905.

20) 1906

Class Hazing

Stanford University Palo Alto, California

Caroline Miller, mother of student William Miller, alleged that her son’s death after a series of colds was caused by his immersion in water. This was called “tubbing” at the time. Source here 

From the above source, an excerpt: “The introduction of hall monitors did little to diminish hazing, which persisted even after the 1906 earthquake brought a sobering sense of propriety to the campus. That spring, freshman William Miller left school three weeks early because of a severe illness, and by June he was dead. He had been subjected to several episodes of tubbing, resulting in a series of colds, which his mother claimed contributed to his death by weakening his constitution. In a letter to President Jordan, Caroline Miller asked that tubbing be banned  ‘and perhaps save other mothers the heartbreak that is my portion.'”

21) 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

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Like to put on a play or skit for Hazing Prevention Week? Order digital copy of The Broken Pledge

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22) 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.

23) 1908

WPI (Worcester Polytechnic Institute) Massachusetts

Freshman-sophomore class hazing

Pittsburgh Post Gazette, September 29, 1908 “…A rush which took place on the evening of September 22, 1908, on the common, resulted in the death of Emil S. (Ernie)  Grau [correct name is Gran], of Wareham, a member of the Class of 1911.  [Gran] 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).

A WPI yearbook entry above

24) 1909 

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.

25) 1912

University of North Carolina

Class hazing

https://de.findagrave.com/memorial/17990613/isaac-william-rand/photo

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. Ralph W. Oldham, William L. Merriam, and Aubrey Hatch were found guilty of manslaughter. Originally sentenced to jail for work release, they eventually instead agreed to house arrest.

26)  1913

Purdue University (Indiana)

Class hazing

Frances Obenchain

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. The entire story is told by a Purdue librarian in Hank Nuwer’s “Hazing: Destroying Young Lives” (1918).

27) 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. 

28) 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.

29) 1915

University of Kentucky

Class Hazing-Related Accident

Freshman Eldridge Scott Griffith was accidentally killed during a celebration over his class’s victory in a traditional class contest. Four others were injured.

Eldridge Scott Griffith

The freshman was hit by a trolley while racing through the streets with a rope in hand,  Griffith was 18.

30) 1915 or 1916

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, according to a family history. I am trying to determine if he is the young man from Franklin, Ohio, with this name, who was killed. More info needed when I can spend time on this death.

31) 1916

Morningside College (Iowa)

Freshman hazing: Physical hazing

New student Paul N. Blue died as a result of extreme physical hazing and perhaps a pre-existing health condition, according to two newspaper sources provided by Wikipedia. Newspaper sources I checked said an inquiry found that diabetes was a contributing factor.

32)  1916

University of Pennsylvania

Freshman-Sophomore battle royal

Suffocation during school-approved annual brawl

First-year student William Lifson smothered in a pileup in an annual matchup for a bowl awarded the winning class. Provost Smith, incredibly, said that Lifson died “in honor, with his hand on the bowl.” This is yet another example of how hazing was tolerated, perhaps condoned, at a North American college.Source The Republic of Columbus, Indana, dated February 18, 1916.

33) 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.

34) 1919

Colgate University (New York)

Class hazing

Freshman Frank McCullough drowned when he tried swimming to shore after sophomores dumped and abandoned him on an island. Here is a link to the school’s “traditions.”

 

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35) 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. What is not a mystery is how Northwestern’s then president jumped on the theory of suicide in an attempt to protect his school’s reputation.

36) 1922

Hamilton College (New York)

Class Hazing or Horseplay https://archive.org/stream/fifteenyearsoldb00saun?ref=ol#page/n9/mode/2up

Click the links above for photo of victim.

William 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. He was a member of Alpha Delta Phi fraternity, but his chapter was not implicated in his demise.

37) 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.

38) 1923

Franklin and Marshall College (Pennsylvania)

Class Hazing

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

39) 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. Here is a clipping at the time:

 

 

 

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40) 1923

New Salem, Indiana

High School Hazing (more likely to be called bullying in our own time) Suicide

The parents of Vernon. A. Walke, 16, blamed his suicide by gunshot over a depression that enveloped him due to New salem School hazing. Rush County Superintendent Birney Farthing and Principal Grant Cooper challenged the theory that hazing caused Walke to take his life.

41) 1924

Hartford City, Indiana

High School Hazing

Death of a bystander

Raymond Morris, 18, tried to intervene when a mob of hazers picked on his little brother, Benjamin, 14.  Hazer William Duff, 17, challenged Raymond to fight. “Look put, I’m going to paste you a good one,” Raymond said, according to witnesses.  He fell unconscious and was rushed to a hospital where he died. The coroner ruled Raymond died from a cerebral hemorrhage through accidental means.

42) 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).

43) 1928

University of Texas

Delta Kappa Epsilon Hazing

 

“Nolt” is a typo for “Nolte” in the news clipping above.

Pledge Nolte McElroy, an athlete, died from the electric shock when he had to crawl through mattresses charged with electric current. The school response was to be expected. “It simply was a terrible accident that could not have been foreseen,”  Texas Dean V. L. Moore told a reporter.

44)1929

Indiana University

Delta Chi Illness post Hazing

George Steinmetz Jr.

Orsa George Steinmetz Jr., 19, died from lung disease after being physically hazed. The death was blamed by his mother on hazing, but cited as illness-related (coroner ruled death cased by pulmonary tb) by university then-administrators who nonetheless strongly condemned all acts of hazing. His mother became the first known parent of a hazing victim to become an activist. George’s brother corresponded with me during my research for “Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing.”

activist.

45) 1929

Flint, Michigan

Boyhood hazing (likely bullying in today’s language)

Blood poisoning due to injury Merrill A. Putnam, 8, died after older boys repeatedly slammed him to the ground in a prank they called the “Royal Bumps.”

46) 1931

Stout Institute (Wisconsin)

Class hazing: Physical contact; hazing horseplay

Aune

First-year student Lloyd Neuman 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.

47) 1934

Oregon State University

Lambda Chi Alpha

Shooting death

Paul Kutch was shot in the head in a so-called act of horseplay while dueling with revolvers thought to be unloaded.  

48) 1935

Dickinson College (Pennsylvania)

Phi Delta Theta Fraternity hazing

Physical contact

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

49) 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.

50) 1936

Mississippi State University (then Mississippi State College)

Future Farmers of America (FFA) Drowning

Willie B. Barkley, an athlete recovering from a severe influenza attack, perished after being tossed by agricultural students into a pond.

51) 1937

Unspecified Modesto high school

Hazing (kidnapping or ride)

A car carrying two kidnapped high school pledges hit a rut and overturned. Robert James, 15, died, and Ted Hanky, 15, was injured. Source: Bakersfield Californian, January 16, 1937.

52) 1940

University of Missouri

Theta Nu Epsilon/Kappa Sigma

Alcohol-related hazing; Pledge at subrosa chapter found at Kappa Sigma houses

Hubert L. (Hugo) Spake Jr. died by smothering 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. Ironically, Spake already was a brother of Kappa Sigma fraternity and returned to the Kappa Sigma house where he was discovered by two pledges on “wakeup” chores. See El Paso Times, March 11, 1940.  See also the NY Daily News for investigation of Theta Nu Epsilon, dated March 31, 1940.

 

Hubert L. Spake, Jr.

 

PS: added June 2, 2017 It was not uncommon even 100-110 years ago or more for undergraduates at sundry colleges to appropriate the fraternal name of a national without permission, and then to besmirch that national’s name with loud and boorish or dangerous behavior. A prime example of this was a onetime national sophomore society called Theta Nu Epsilon.   That organization had subrosa, unregulated, unauthorized chapters all over the country. Since it was a sophomore society, its members often or usually had additional membership in authorized nationals.  So it was in March 1940 that Hubert L. Spake, Jr, died in his sleep after an alcohol fueled initiation for an unauthorized Theta Nu Epsilon chapter at the Univ of Missouri Kappa Sigma house.  The Missouri Dean Albert Heckel shut down the unauthorized chapter for good after Spake choked to death on his own vomit the night after the illicit initiation.  Prior to the death, the illicit chapter operated as a freewheeling, hardly unknown chapter at Mizzou.

53) 1941

Highmore High School

Athletic hazing, Lettermen’s Club:

Hazing by electrocution

Gerald De Gooyer, 20, a multi-sport athlete was killed by an initiation requiring him to sustain an electric shock.  

54) 1941

Berkeley High School

Eunoia Club

Auto crash as upperclassmen chased newcomers 

About 30 members were involved in a hazing of a high school club that seems to have all or most members situated

in California high schools. One carload of boys flipped and went off an embankment. James Ristenpart died. Three were injured.

55) 1943

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

High school hazing with college students present: Death from nephritis (but disputed by D.A.)

Wayne Rogers, assaulted by at least seven older students, died on his first day in a senior high school. He 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.

56) 1945

St. Louis University (Missouri)

Phi Beta Pi

Fatal Accident During Hazing

Robert G. 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.

57)  1948

Montana State University

Les Bouffons (The Clowns) Secret Society (local honorary chapter)

Shooting by security guard during prank

War 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). Illustration below by San Francisco Examiner.

58) 1949

Brown University (Rhode Island)

Fraternity Rush Night (including Delta Phi)

While on a tour of a fraternity house intended as a rush event to introduce pledges to different fraternal chapters, Hale Thompson Gehl, 19, fell down a set of stairs and died two days later.  The night of the rush party a big brawl involved Beta Theta Phi and Delta Phi.

59) 1950

University of California, Berkeley

Sigma Pi Death Following Hazing Dropoff

Pledge Gerald Loren. Foletta died when hit by an automobile after members dropped him off in the countryside. San Francisco Examiner, October 11, 1950.

60) 1950

Wittenberg University (Ohio)

Alpha Tau Omega Death Following Hazing Dropoff

Pledge Dean J. Niswonger was hit by a car as he slept on a highway after being dropped off from campus. ATO pledge Jerry Wendell escaped death but suffered a fractured arm. The driver of the semi who hit the boy was exonerated. The chapter was back pledging in one year. A coroner ruled the death accidental. They two had been blindfolded and sleep deprived. ATO member David E, Farley left school and enrolled at Midland College in Nebraska where he pledged KAI Fraternity. Col. William R. Dayton was a distinguished alum years before the accident. Keith Amundsen was a member of the chapter at the time of death.

The Niswonger case went to the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit – 221 F.2d 350 (6th Cir. 1955); April 21, 1955. SEE BELOW:


Horace W. Baggott, Dayton, Ohio, Waldo E. Young, Eaton, Ohio, for appellant.

Rowan A. Greer, Jr., Dayton, Ohio (Warren A. Ferguson, Landis, Ferguson, Bieser & Greer, Dayton, Ohio, on the brief), for appellee.

Before MARTIN, McALLISTER and MILLER, Circuit Judges.

PER CURIAM.


The appeal in this case is by the Administratrix of the twenty-year-old decedent who was killed by being run over by a truck of the appellee on a public highway near Springfield, Ohio.

The decedent and other “pledges” were being hazed prior to initiation by a Greek Letter Fraternity and, beginning on Sunday, April 30, 1950, were required to go through calisthenics late at night, to do housework, painting, scrubbing and other chores until about six o’clock in the morning when, after being permitted to rest for only an hour, they had to go to classes at eight o’clock and for the remainder of the school day. Following the day’s class room work, they returned to the Fraternity House and were required to study until eleven o’clock in the evening before beginning the calisthenics and work again. The same routine was followed each day until Wednesday, May 3. After their calisthenics on that date, the decedent and a companion “pledge” were blind-folded, placed on the back seat of an automobile and driven out into the country. Their blind-folds were then removed and they were put out of the automobile and instructed to find their way back to Springfield.

The two young men walked around the countryside for sometime until they came to a state highway. They attempted unsuccessfully to get a ride and then stopped to rest on the side of the road; and, becoming uncomfortable there, they sat upon the paved portion of the highway. They were so exhausted that they fell asleep on the paved road where decedent was killed.

The main argument of appellant is that the driver of appellee’s truck had a “last clear chance,” by the exercise of due care, to avoid the fatal accident. The truck driver testified that, immediately, when he recognized that an object on the road might be a human being, he put on his brakes full force and almost went off the roadside in an effort to avoid running over the decedent.

In directing a verdict for the defendant, Judge Cecil explained to the jury that, after a person places himself in a position of peril by his own negligence and that his “negligence then ceases,” the defendant is required to use ordinary care to avoid injury at the time he “discovers the person in the condition of peril.” The judge told the jury further that the terrible ordeal which the two boys had endured immediately before the accident, deplorable as it was, could place no greater duty upon appellee or its truck driver and make it, or its driver, responsible for the conduct of the boys and for “what happened before.”

In our judgment, the district judge properly granted the motion of appellee for directed verdict, for the reasons stated in the judge’s address to the jury. We find no reversible error in the assignments made by appellant respecting the exclusion of evidence proffered by her, or in any procedural matter connected with the trial.

The judgment of the district court is ordered affirmed.

61) 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.

62, 63) 1951

University of Miami 

Lambda Chi Alpha Kidnaping and car drop-off 30 miles from campus

Exhausted pledges Thomas Kleppner was killed and Fred Evans injured when an oncoming driver failed to spot them sleeping at roadside in Homestead, Florida, according to The Daily Republican (May 31, 1951). Evans died following the accident on May 31. 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. The driver was E. J. Pacetti. Pledge James J. Moser survived. Source: Long Branch Daily Record, May 26, 1951. Note: Fred Evans is occasionally spelled Fred Evens in 1951 clippings. 

64) 1953

Milligan College (Tennessee)

Freshman class hazing:  Required “games” of first-year students

Calvin Dougherty, 17, 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 at a hospital bedside.

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

65) 1954

Swarthmore College (Swarthmore, Pennsylvania)

Delta Upsilon

Death during Hazing Dropoff

Peter Mertz was killed by a passing car after members abandoned him in the country. He was a football player.  Here is a photo of Peter.

66)1955

Swarthmore College

Classmate Hazing and/or bullying Revenge shooting

Victim: Francis Holmes Strozier (above)

The Greenville headline said it all: “Ministerial student mad over being hazed,kills.” In what could have been a campus bloodbath, Robert Bechtel, 22, of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, shot one of the hazers tormenting him. Bechtel, mocked for his dark, longish hair, went home and returned to campus with a revolver, .22 rifle, and 134 bullets, according to The Greenville News. 

Bechtel, a student aiming to become a Unitarian minister, went to Wharton Hall, a residence hall, and ambushed tormentor Francis Holmes Strozier, a sophomore from Akron, Ohio. He shot him by the light of his flashlight with the rifle. “I had a rage against them,” Bechtel told police. “I felt they were persecuting me.” Bechtel raced about Wharton Hall as if berserk and fired several more shots until other Strozier’s roommate, Robert Witt, 19, subdued  him.

Bechtel, a hall proctor who knew where his tormentors lived, tried to get into several locked rooms without success. Although newspapers widely characterized the death as bullying, the pranks themselves were more akin in today’s terms as a type of bullying. In a classic case of hidden harm, the tormentors had picked on Bechtel who came to Swarthmore after being discharged from the U.S. Air Force with a nervous breakdown. Bechtel was ruled insane and shipped to a mental hospital.

67, 68) 1955

New Philadelphia, Ohio

Boy Scouts of America Auto accident during blindfolded initiation march

The Ashbury (N.J. Park Press reported that two of ten boys were killed on a darkened road as they marched with older Explorers to celebrate their initiation as First-Class Scouts. The dead were identified as Michael Andreas and Charles Fawcett. A third youth was injured. The driver was Allen Rupp.

69) 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 unknown by him. 

70) 1956

Rice Institute

Freshman class death

Accident while students participated in a dangerous frosh orientation stunt

A regrettable “tradition” of the era was for students to hang a tire and defend it against interlopers who tried to steal it as part of the “fun.”. The tire was hung high in the air atop a belltower connected to a smokestack. Unfortunately, Karl B. Bailey was overcome by carbon monoxide and suffocated. His friend Cecil William Carrol climbed the smokestack to aid him, lost his balance, and also perished. 

71)  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.

Max Caulk

72) 1957

A high school educator who participated in a “harmless” supervised initiation intended to frighten first-year students for laughs died accidentally while pretending to hang. The victim in the tragic, unfortunate death was W.H. Sallee of Utica High School (Kansas).  Source: many, including Warren Times Mirror (Pa.),  Sept. 18, 1957.

 Educator dies during class day initiation

73, 74) 1957

St. Joseph’s Hospital, Lexington, Ky.

Nurse hazing as prank

Burned to death

Two student nurses, one smoking a cigarette, burned to death after ether was tossed on them as a prank. The deceased killed by the registered nurses were Charlotte Smith and Kathleen Oehler. The act was certainly one of negligence but not in any way intended to be malicious. The ether was supposed to create a temporary feeling of numbness. The two perpetrators were severely burned beating out the flames. Source: Indiana (PA.) Evening Gazette, January 25, 1957.

1958: No deaths reported. 

75) 1959

University of Southern California

Kappa Sigma

Physical hazing (eating ritual)

Pledge Richard Terrell Swanson choked to death while trying to swallow a slab of liver at the request of members. Parents settled for $35,000. His last words: “I’m going to swallow this liver if it’s the last thing I do.”  His death inspired the movie “Fraternity Row.”

“Ozzie and Harriet” TV star David Nelson was a recent alumnus of this chapter and involved his fraternity in several episodes. He was likely not present at Swanson’s death.  However, the tradition likely existed without a death when David Nelson was a pledge and member.

76) 1959

Yakima High School (Washington State); Moxee School District

Moxeee Letterman’s Club

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

Henry Allen Sherwood, Jr., the unlucky one of 16 initiates, drowned wearing a burlap sack after submitting to a paddling. Head football coach Donald L. (Don) Smith was present and overseeing the paddling and subsequent tragedy. School officials took no swift action in the week following the death, and Smith and up to 40 players were questioned by a prosecutor. As would be commonplace over time, the death was ruled accidental. The parents sued, lost, and won an appeal charging the Moxee school district with negligence that sent the case to trial. News  Clipping here.

Important: See judgments by Washington State Supreme Court re school responsibility.

 

 77, 78, 79, 80) 1960

Pi Kappa Phi

Northern Illinois University (Dekalb, IL)

Fatality following unsanctioned pledge party (auto accident)

Alcohol had been provided to pledges and members at an unsanctioned NIU party prior to a horrific collision at 100 mph of a Greyhound bus and speeding, out-of-control 1957 convertible. The force of the impact disintegrated the vehicle into more than 100 pieces and made identification of bodies difficult. Four died in the accident that included one pledge and four senior members in the car. (The bus driver was unhurt, and no passengers were on board). Killed instantly were Harry Lamphier, Jr., 24, freshman William Gustafson, 18, William Kempfer, 19.

John Pauls, 19, died later at a hospital. The driver who lived was Raymond Uramkin, a junior, age 20 then and now 80 as of 2019. Three chapter officers faced charges of providing the alcohol, including Dean Schneck.

81) 1961

Clemson University (South Carolina)

Sigma Kappa Epsilon Death following a dropoff

Joe Henry Derham, Jr., one of six students left to find his way back to campus, tried to take a short cut across Lake Hartwell in April and drowned. Years later, in 2014, Tucker Hipps would perish on the shore of the same lake.

82) 1962

Allegheny High School

Football Hazing, Suicide

Richard Metz, 17, was being attacked by two older football players in a hazing. They tried cutting off his ducktail style hair. Metz shot one of the young men, injuring him with a .22 pistol. Afraid of being sent to a correctional institution, Metz turned the weapon on himself and died in September of 1962.

83) 1963

Charleston High School (West Virginia)

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).

84) 1963

University of Florida and Abilene Christian College (Now Abilene Christian University, Texas)

Fraternal Organization of Lifeguards Water Initiation Ritual; Lifeguard Hazing

George E. Beers, 28, died following a lifeguard hazing initiation in the Atlantic Ocean. At first charges were dropped on a technicality against University of Florida undergraduates John Masters and John Tanner, as well as Roger Orrell, an Abilene Christian [University] student.  In January of 1964, a charge of culpable negligence was filed by the state attorney. He was held underwater in a strenuous exercise that had been held annually at least since 1958.

85) 1964

University of Rhode Island

Lambda Chi Alpha

All-night pledging ritual (quite probably a scavenger hunt); fatal accident

Jose Manual Costa, 20, died and pledge Robert Niggi, 19, was seriously injured when their car left the road and struck a telephone pole in N. Kingston, R.I. Source The Journal News, White Plains, December 17, 1964. The university president levied a punishment of probation and only $500 against the chapter, claiming that over the previous fifty years it contributed “significantly to the university.”

86) 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.

Above: Cincinnati Enquirer. February 14, 1965.

87) 1966

Roman Catholic High School (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Athletic hazing: Drowning

Lamonte R. Jenkins died of drowning after being tossed into water near West Chester, according to New York Times and the Hazleton Standard-Speaker . Authorities found “no malicious intent,” according to the Standard-Speaker. He was at a football camp.

88) 1967

Baylor University (Texas)

Baylor Chamber of Commerce (social club)

Physical hazing (eating ritual) John E. Clifton died while choking down a foul concoction and laxatives 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.

89, 90, 91) 1968

Steubenville College Steubenville, Ohio

Fraternity hazing Auto accident during all-night scavenger hunt

Two men on a fraternity scavenger hunt and a friend who drove the car all died in a smashup during a grueling, all-night scavenger hunt. The dead were Michael L. DiBacco, Trent Ciarrochia, and William Entinger. DiBacco was the driver of the other car and was on his way to work. Trent Ciarrochia, and William Entinger were on the fraternity scavenger hunt. The young men were not carrying identification and were traced through th ecar’s registration.

92) 1969

Muskingum College (New Concord, Ohio): Now Muskingum University

Athletic hazing

Overexertion during exercise session Scott Graeler, a sophomore varsity tackle, died during an initiation at the team’s Stag Club House. A club president later paid a $100 fine, according to Wikipedia. According to the Times Recorder of Zanesville, Ohio, the person fined by the court was John (Jack) Falcon, a junior.The coroner’s verdict was heart failure due to overexertion. “The death was not intentional,” said Jodge J. Lincoln Knapp, defending the typical light sentence for hazing. “There but for the grace of God could have gone many others.” Graeler was dead on arrival on Feb. 8, 1969. He was taken ill at the campus’s Stag Club. 

93) 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 of Donna Bedinger 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. The district attorney said one of his fraternity brothers incurred a head injury in a hazing.

94) 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.

95) 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 that were on order after breaking, he plunged into a gorge and died. Fraternity brothers were sentenced to light community service. Was alcohol a factor? Unknown to moderator.

96) 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.

97) 1973

Lehigh University (Pennsylvania)

Delta Phi Pledge leaped from car during abduction

Pledge Mitchell (Mitch)  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. The father called it hazing “prank” and sued for $21 million. Was alcohol a factor? Unknown to moderator. Here is a story about his roommates and their loss.

98, 99, 100, 101)  1974

Grove City College (Pennsylvania)

Adelphikos

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.

102)  1974

Monmouth College (New Jersey)

Zeta Beta Tau

Physical hazing

william

William 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. Below, Philadelphia Daily News, Nov. 13, 1974

103) 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. Bluefield State College authorities refused to meet with me in 1989 when I came to campus and researched the story. The trooper who investigated the case assisted me with research (Thank you).

104) 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.

105) 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.

106) 1975

University of Nevada, Reno

Sundowners (local drinking fraternity)

Alcohol-related initiation drinking death 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. Hazing had been outlawed at Nevada as early as 1906 by President Edward E. Stubbs. Alcohol: primary factor.

107) 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 a WSU medical doctor.

108) 1975

Cheyney University of Pennsylvania (then-Cheyney State College)

Freshman-sophomore class hazing Physical hazing

During a brutal session in which freshman Theodore Ben had to carry another on his back, he lapsed into a coma and died. The then-college president denied all responsibility. Alcohol use: Unknown but unlikely. Hazing due to physical violence? Yes. A judge dropped all charges against Barrie Williams, 19. and Frank Stevens, 20.

109) 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. 

110) 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.

111) 1977

University of Pennsylvania

Unrecognized renegade chapter of Omega Psi Phi.

Physical hazing

A pledge, Robert J. Bazile, 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.

112) 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.

113) 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.

114) 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. Chuck’s mother, Eileen Stevens, founded CHUCK, the Committee to Halt Useless College Killings. See “Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing for the stories of Chuck Stenzel and his activist mother, Mrs. Stevens.

chuck

Alcohol served by members the primary cause of Chuck’s death.

115) 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.

116) 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.

117) 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. The accident occurred at the end of Hell Week when pledges and members drove in carloads to a bar. Pledge John E. McDonald was at the wheel. His first trial ended in a mistrial. Fuhs died of head injuries. Two other pledges in the car survived. They were John Boersma and John O’Connor. 

118, 119) 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.

120) 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.

121) 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.

122) 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.

123) 1980

University of Missouri

Phi Kappa Psi

Pledging-related incident (then dismissed as horseplay by school authorities)

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.

 - Mother Wants Hazing Inquiry In Death Of Son At...
 St, Louis Post-Dispatch; Oct. 26, 1980

124) 1980

Ithaca College

Delta Kappa

Physical hazing

Pledge Joseph (Joey) Parella, 18, died exercising in a steam room. Alcohol use not cited in press clippings or police investigation. Many additional types of hazing endured by Joey Parella are listed in news clippings of the day.

125) 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.

126) 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.

Barry

Alcohol direct cause of death. His death is covered in detail in Nuwer’s “Broken Pledges.”

127) 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.

128) 1982

Towson State University

Alpha Omega Lambda

Sleep-deprivation related accident during servitude

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.

129, 130) 1983

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 the fatal accident.

131) 1983-1984

University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez

ROTC Panther Society

Arnaldo Mercado Perez, 18, was beaten, deprived of sleep, and physically and mentally abused at an extended hazing session and 30-mile hike that began December 26, 1983. At least ten students participated in activities that led to his death on January 5, 1984. The civil case went nowhere. 

132) 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.

133) 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.

134) 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.

135) 1984 American International College

Zeta Chi local chapter of athletic team fraternity:

Alcohol-related hazing death

9074822-small

Pledge Jay Lenaghan, 19, died following a drinking marathon with a blood-alcohol level of 0.48. Alcohol overdose (mixed with non-otc drugs) was direct cause of death.

136) 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.

137) 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.

138) 1985

University of Missouri, Columbia

Lambda Chi Alpha

Alcohol-related Pledging-related Accident

Rushee Richard Allyn Butler, being driven home from a rush party by member Robert Sexe was killed in a car accident. Alcohol was a factor in the death. See Springfield News-Leader, October 4, 1985.

139) 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 grade-point average required for pledging eligibility. Alcohol was not a factor in the death. Overexertion led to death. A professor observed the abuse and failed to interfere or report.

140) 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.

141) 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 was a factor in the death, according to Frank Hurdle who was student newspaper editor at the time. “Alcohol was definitely a factor in the death of Skip Cline, following a Big Brother/Little Brother in which pledges went around asking actives if they were their big brother. If no, they were offered a drink but not forced to drink. Cline passed out at the house and is estimated to have reached a BAC of .45. He woke the next morning and walked out the back exit and fell down the second-floor steps. BAC at that time I think was .24.”

142) 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.

143) 1987

Stanford University (California)

Zeta Psi

Alcohol-related Rush accident 

Rush chairman David Dunshee, 20, died during a fraternity party held on a lake. Alcohol was a factor in the death. Moderator: Here is a helpful note from a member of Zeta Psi edited only for length, not content.

Hi Hank. This email will likely sound like one of self-preservation or defense on behalf of my fraternity, but I am simply submitting it to you because I figured you’d appreciate it. I found the original article about the incident on the Stanford Daily archives: https://stanforddailyarchive.com/cgi-bin/stanford?a=d&d=stanford19870427-01.2.2# Dunshee was a rush chairman. Although the party was a Rush event and alcohol was being served, and not being fully educated on the definitions in your area of study, I don’t really know if it falls under the category of a pledging-related death, though I can see that if having a rush event with alcohol is a precursor to any death then this incident could fall under that definition, even if it was not a pledge or a deliberate hazing incident.

 
Of course, you will know best how to edit the current entry. It does sound like the Zetes in that day certainly took some actions which were harmful to others, and in one case pledges were found bound by hands and feet at a nearby horse stable.. how that encourages unity is beyond me.
 
I’ll be reading more of your work in the coming weeks and I hope that you continue your fight along with the other groups working on policy change, so that we don’t hear these stories like the one at Penn State any longer. I feel fortunate that during my pledging process I was not subjected to anything like I have read on your website and elsewhere.. it makes me sick to my stomach thinking that a group of men all agreed at some point that some of these rituals are a good thing.

144) 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.

Below: Central NJ Home News, Feb. 21, 1988

145) 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.

146) 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.

147) 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.

148) 1988

Rider College (New Jersey), now Rider University

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.

149) 1989

Morehouse College (Georgia)

Alpha Phi Alpha

Physical hazing

Pledge Joel Harris, 18, who had an enlarged heart, died after physical hazing. His death is covered in Nuwer’s “Broken Pledges.”

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150) 1989

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.

151) 1990

Western Illinois University

Lacrosse Club

Athletic hazing

sc_haben.jpg

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. Nick’s death is covered in “High School Hazing” (Scholastic) by Hank Nuwer.

152) 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.

153) 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.

154) 1991

Trinity University (Texas)

Triniteers

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.

155) 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.

Jonathan McNamara

Donations to the Jonathan S. McNamara Memorial Scholarship Inc. can be sent to: Dylan McNamara, 51 Tanglewood Dr, Essex Jct., VT 05452. Checks should be made to “Jonathan S. McNamara Memorial Scholarship Fund.” 100% of donations go to college-bound high school graduates of Vergennes Union High School.

156) 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 news stories then quoting the victim’s father, a doctor.

157) 1992

Frostburg State University (Maryland)

Phi Sigma Kappa

Pledging-related death

An ill and exhausted J.B. (John 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.

J.B. Joynt III Memorial Scholarship

The recipient must be a full-time incoming freshman who is a graduate of Laurel High School, Laurel, MD. A letter of recommendation from the applicant’s high school must be submitted. Participation in extracurricular activities is a requirement. In the event of equally qualified applicants, preference will be given to applicants with demonstrated financial need. Please provide a name and email address for a letter of recommendation from a high school teacher or counselor. As a professional courtesy, please be sure to notify the reference before adding his/her name here.

158) 1993

Auburn University (Alabama)

Phi Delta Theta

Alcohol-related Death Chad Saucier, a pledge even though he was a community college student and not an Auburn student, died from alcohol intoxication following an annual bottle exchange between members and pledges. His death is covered in “Wrongs of Passage” by Hank Nuwer. Pledges were dressed like Santa’s elves.

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Alcohol was a direct cause of death. Another pledge was injured when he fell out a window.

159) 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.

160) 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.

161) 1994

Southeast Missouri State

Kappa Alpha Psi

Physical Hazing

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

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

162) 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.

163) 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.

164) 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.

165, 166) 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. Brian died heroically died trying to locate Pearce. The national fraternity closed the chapter.

167) 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).

168) 1997

Louisiana State University

Sigma Alpha Epsilon

Alcohol-related Pledging death

Benjamin Wynne, 20, died at the start of the LSU 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.

Ben Wynne

169) 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. The two schools shared pledging at the time of death.

170) 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.

171) 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

172) 1998

University of Michigan

Phi Delta Theta and Chi Omega

Fall of Pledge out a window

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. Alcohol was present in the under-aged woman’s system

. 1017_cantor

173) 1998

University of Mississippi

Sigma Chi

Suicide

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

174) 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.

175) 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.

176) 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. 27 shots of alcohol was cause of death. A member found guilty of a felony had his conviction thrown out by a judge years after the trial.

177) 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.

178) 1999

Old Dominion University

Alpha Tau Omega

Big Brother/Little Brother bottle exchange.

The victim who died of alcohol poisoning was Terry Stirling, 19.

179) 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. Over time the university student newspaper had to resort to freedom of information act requests to find out fraternity sanctions for hazing and other problems.

180) 2000

Chico State University (California)

Pi Kappa Phi

Alcohol death directly caused by hazing

Pledge Adrian Heideman died after being encouraged to drink. Some members, including chapter officers, received a light jail sentence. Three men (Brandon Bettar, Richard De Luna, 21, Sam Dobbyn, 21 were sentenced to 30 days in county jail, three years court probation and $640 in fines, Prosecutor Ramsey said. They and three other fraternity members, Mark Bates, Nicholas Sutton and Theodore Bloemendaal, agreed to pay the Heideman family $75,000 each in return for being dropped from a lawsuit. Alcohol was cause of death.

adrianandedie
Adrian, mom Edith Heideman

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181) 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).

182) 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 cause of death. Unknown if alcohol was present. This is the second death at this chapter.

183) 2001

University of Miami

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

chadmeredweb copy

Chad 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.

184) 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 consumed prior to going out in freezing temperatures and failure of other athletes to monitor were all factors in the death.

185) 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. Members drank heavily on their porch rather than search for him with rescuers.

benklein-sm

Substance 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

186, 187) 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.

188, 189) 2002

California State, Los Angeles

Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority

Drowning but hazing disputed by chapter 

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’s claims.

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190) 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.

191) 2002

University of Maryland

Phi Sigma Kappa

Alcohol Link Investigated in Bid Night death

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.

 

UNDER CONSTRUCTION:  192) Add Matt Epling, HS Michigan.

193, 194, 195, 196) 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 wrote me that 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.

197) 2003

Plattsburgh State (State University of New York)

Psi Epsilon Chi (suspended and unrecognized at time)

Torture and alcohol in hazing incident

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. See the story of his death in a documentary distributed by Vimeo.

W._Dean_Jennings
Walter Dean Jennings

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

198) 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 Alleghany National Forest. Autopsy was inconclusive. Circumstances unknown to me.

199) 2003

Plymouth State University

Sigma Kappa Omega sorority (a local that formerly was a national sorority)

Pledging-related death in car crash

 

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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.

200) 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.

201) 2004

University of Colorado

Chi Psi

Hazing

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

bailey

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

202) 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 the incident hazing, but coroner termed death accidental.

blakehammontreeOU

Alcohol was the cause of death. Update: 2017–Oklahoma Sigma Chi was no better after reinstatement. Another new  member died of alcohol poisoning in 2016, and the chapter went on probation Jan 2017.

203) 2004

Southern Illinois University at Carbondale

Pi Kappa Alpha

Underaged ledge drowned after being given alcohol by a member or members

Although the university declared that hazing was not a factor in the accidental drowning, most schools in the years that follow post that giving alcohol to pledges is a hazing violation. The chapter was cited for eight alcohol violations and expelled the chapter. The victim was Brent E. Johnson. The location was Cedar Lake. Source: Fraternal Law, September 2004.

204) 2005

Chico State University (California)

Chi Tau (college-banned chapter)

Hazing death

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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.

Matthew’s mother Debbie Smith tells of her son’s ordeal and her family’s in her chapter in “Hazing: Destroying Young Lives.”

205) 2005

University of California Irvine

Lambda Phi Epsilon

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.

206) 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 rulingcame January 2006. Alcohol was direct cause of death.

Jack Phummarath

207) 2006    

University of Texas

Sigma Alpha Epsilon

Death in fall

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.

208) 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 http://www.stophazing.org/nuwer/dec06column.htm

209) 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. Alcohol was a factor. Update:  In 2013, a drunk SFA  TKE made a U-turn, collided with a semi. The result was 3 dead, one injured. Does not appear to be hazing. 

210) 2007

Rider University (New Jersey)

Phi Kappa Tau

Hazing

Gary Devercelly Jr.

Information was corrected and updated October 8, 2018.  2009 Tribute link is here.

Julie and Gary Sr. DeVercellys’ son, Gary Jr., an avid baseball player and on his way to earn an MBA to become a general manager of a professional baseball team, told his mother he wanted to join Phi Kappa Tau because it stood for leadership and would be good for his resumé and networking. She asked him about hazing. He told her not to worry — hazing is illegal in New Jersey,?and the University takes it seriously. Sadly Gary Jr. died as a result of a fraternity hazing ritual.  From the moment detectives walked into the fraternity house, they worked the homicide as a hazing case.

All pledges were ‘required’ to drink. Two went to the hospital with alcohol poisoning, and one of them died. Gary and the other pledges were hazed numerous times leading up to Big Little Night, the most deadly night of pledging. There were numerous, less dangerous forms of hazing that took place prior to this lethal night. It started with making and wearing tee shirts with demeaning words, to studying while standing for hours in the basement, to unity pushups and sit-ups in the woods in the dark, to a scavenger hunt stretching from New Jersey, to New York City, to Philadelphia way into the early hours.   From Gary and Julie Devercelly:  To this day we still do not know all of the details of this deadly night. Somehow Gary Jr. made it from the basement of the fraternity house, where pledges were required to consume all of their ‘family’ drink before leaving, to the bartender’s room on the second floor. Numerous people knew Gary Jr. was in trouble and told fraternity members to call for help. Unfortunately, no one listened until it was too late. Gary was placed on a futon and left alone. By the time paramedics were called it was too late. Gary Jr’s. parents and younger siblings flew across the country to? be with him in his last hours of life. His parents had to make that decision no parent should ever have to make. With his mother, father, younger sister, and younger brother at his side, Gary Jr. was taken off of life support.   LINK to attorney Douglas Fierberg web page: https://schoolviolencelaw.com/estate-of-deceased-college-student-v-rider-university-phi-kappa-tau-et-al/   

211) 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 misdemeanor 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.

FROM USA TODAY:

WILMINGTON, Del. — Two former fraternity brothers are not responsible for a pledge’s hazing death in 2008, a jury in a civil trial ruled Friday.

Brett Griffin, 18, of Kendall Park, N.J., died early Nov. 8, 2008, from alcohol poisoning after a night of drinking at a Sigma Alpha Mu “Big Brother” party. Fraternity members said the freshman chose to drink.

“This is the reason kids are still dying from hazing in 2013,” Julie Griffin, Brett Griffin’s mother, said as she left the courtroom. “Everyone wants to blame it on the kids.”

Julie and Timothy Griffins filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the national fraternity and several members in 2009, settling before the trial with all but former chapter president Jason Aaron and former pledge master Matthew Siracusa. 

212) 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.

213) 2008

Lenoir Rhyne (Hickory, 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, Lianne Kowiak, became an anti-hazing advocate

Image result for harrison kowiak
Harrison with mother Lianne, sister Emma, father Brian Kowiak

Earlier in the year the Lenoir-Rhyne women’s soccer team was videotaped in a hazing incident involving alcohol. Alcohol not a factor in Harrison’s condition. Death caused by head injury. Lianne Kowiak has become an activist and winner of the Hank Nuwer Antihazing Hero Award. It is unknown if brothers had been drinking since they waited many hours before getting Harrison medical treatment.

214) 2008

Utah State (Logan, Utah)

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. Michael’s father, George Starks, is an advocate for shutting down all fraternities.

Michael Starks

Alcohol supplied by Chi Omega was direct cause of Michael’s death. Members of Sigma Nu fraternity and Chi Omega sorority were charged with third-degree felony hazing.

215) 2008

Cal Poly(California)

Sigma Alpha Epsilon

Hazing

Carson Starkey & Dad

 

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.

216) 2009

SUNY Geneseo Pigs Drinking Club (sub-rosa organization)

Hazing, alcohol caused

Arman Partamian, a recent Eagle Scout, died from an alcohol overdose. Alcohol was direct cause of death.

217) 2009

Prairie View A & M (Texas)

Phi Beta Sigma

Alleged hazing

DONNIEWADEII

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. Alcohol was not a factor.

218) 2010

Radford University (Virginia)

Tau Kappa Epsilon

Alcohol-related hazing

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.

Hank Nuwer wrote about the death for the Orlando Sentinel.

219, 220) 2010

East Carolina University

Delta Sigma Theta

Traffic deaths allegedly from sleep deprivation

Victoria Carter

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. Alcohol was not involved.

221)  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.

222) 2011

Robert Champion

Florida A & M

Band Hazing involving physical beating

Band member Robert Champion died on a bus in an incident police have called hazing-related but Robert’s mother charged is murder.  One participant was sentenced to six years in prison. All others received probation. Physical violence caused the death. Alcohol not a factor.

223) 2012

Delta Gamma Iota

Vincennes University (Indiana)

Hazing death–Alcohol-related

Will Torrance

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.

224) 2012

Madison, South Dakota

High School athletics

Hazing prank (revenge shooting; homicide)

Erickson (left); Johnson (right)

Murder as revenge for athletic hazing:  Madison High School graduate Carl Ericsson, 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 twice at his own home.

225) 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. Leonard Serrato, 30, served 90 days for supplying the alcohol, and for strongly encouraging Dhanens to consume copious amounts of rum. Another member, Aaron Raymo, served a 30-day sentence. Theta Chi president Daniel Baker also served a short jail term.

Philip Dhanens

“This [hazing] is one aspect of college life that must stop,” Mrs. Diane Dhanens said. “This will only happen, gentlemen, if you and I stand together and accept what has happened, accept the punishments for breaking the law, and accept the death of a friend because of poor judgment and not caring about the safety of your fraternity brothers.”

226) 2012

Easton, Pennsylvania

Lafayette College

Kappa Delta Rho and other fraternity chapters visited by victim prior to his death

Alcohol related

Everett Glenn

The president of Lafayette College said that a student,  Everett Glenn, who died after drinking at a banned chapter of Kappa Delta Rho was a hazing victim. 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. Alcohol was direct cause.

227) 2012

DeKalb, Illinois

Northern Illinois University

Pi Kappa Alpha

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DAVID BOGENBERGER

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. Details below are from an article written by Daily Herald reporter  Madhu Krishnamurthy,

Bogenberger, 19, a graduate of Palatine High School, and 18 other pledges drank anywhere from three to five 4-ounce glasses of vodka in each of the seven designated rooms at the fraternity house within an hour and a half, according to the amended wrongful death lawsuit filed by Bogenberger’s family against the Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity, several of its members, and 16 female defendants.

The pledges were asked nonsensical and personal questions, including about their sexual history and preferences and told to drink after each answer by active fraternity members and women invited to participate in “Mom and Dad’s Night,” a non-sanctioned initiation event. Pledges who expressed reluctance to drink as directed were berated with obscenities until they relented, the lawsuit claims.

The pledges were unable to walk on their own and were taken to the basement of the fraternity house and given buckets to vomit in; they vomited on themselves and each other. As they began to lose consciousness, their limp bodies were left in different places in the fraternity house such as the kitchen and hallway floors, according to the amended complaint.

Bogenberger was put on a bed by his “Greek father,” who placed his head and body in such a way that if he vomited, he wouldn’t choke, the lawsuit alleges.

The “Greek parents” decided against calling an ambulance or getting medical help for the unconscious pledges, and they told others not to call 911, according to the lawsuit.

A fraternity officer sent a mass text message to members ordering them to delete photographs and videos of pledges who were unconscious, the suit alleges.

Bogenberger was found dead the morning of Nov. 2. His blood alcohol content was 0.351 percent, authorities said.

Reporter Barbara Vitello added the following in her story.

Three men [Hazel Vergaralope, 21, of Dekalb; Michael Pfest, 23, of Chicago; and Michael Phillip, 20, of Western Springs] charged are in photograph.

Read more here.

228) 2012

University of Idaho

Lambda Chi Alpha Drowning death

Preston Vorhauer

A detective investigating the death of pledge Preston Vorhauer ruled that it 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.

229) 2012

Bethune-Cookman

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. Alcohol not a factor. Photo and article link

230) 2012

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 mother alleges a coverup and destruction of evidence.

231) 2012

University of North Carolina

Chi Phi

Hazing-related, albeit apparently not directly hazing

David Shannon

June 26, 2018–I have gone back to look over the death of pledge David Shannon. Research done by local reporter Sara Salinas many years after the tragedy demonstrates that the UNC Chi Phi chapter clearly created a classic hazing culture. Like the death of Tucker Hipps at Clemson University, David died in a fall under circumstances not 100 percent clear. Here is what Sara wrote:

“Shannon was found dead on Oct. 27, 2012, after a fall from a concrete mixer at a plant in Carrboro. The death was originally investigated for ties to hazing, though no connection was ever found. New information indicates Chi Phi accepted responsibility for hazing its pledges weeks before Shannon’s death.

On Oct. 3, 2012, Chi Phi imposed a three-week, self-initiated social probation in response to violations of hazing and alcohol policies.

Although the fraternity accepted responsibility for hazing, an investigation by the UNC Greek Judicial Board found the chapter not responsible and imposed no hazing-related sanctions.

New member activities involved embarrassing activities, physical separation of members and pledges, and the positioning of new members in subservient roles — a “clear violation of the Code (of Conduct for New Member Education)” the Board said.

But the Board ultimately found the event in question was not conducted with malice toward the pledges and found the fraternity not to be in violation of hazing policy.

“The Chi Phi Fraternity has had a presence on this campus since before the American Civil War. Doubtlessly, the pledge process of the Fraternity is steeped in tradition, and (redacted) would seem to be one of those,” the final investigation reads. “It is the opinion of the Solicitor that the event was likely conceived in a different time, when hazing was considered much more acceptable and considerations such as public embarrassment of the pledges were not kept in mind.”

Here is my reasoning. A hazing death does NOT need to have malice in order for it to be considered a hazing-related death. In many cases, there is no malice. In a few cases, the courts have ruled that a victim must share responsibility for the chapter negligence that led to that victim’s death. I am going on the record to say the Board’s “steeped in tradition” statement is a flawed and unfortunate choice of words. Thus, while this tragedy isn’t as overt and deliberate as the water torture hazing deaths at Chico State and Plattsburgh, it is a case that I feel needs to be included on this list of deaths.  [Ed. note: I need to thank reporter Ryan Haar’s questions for prodding me to give this case the attention that Sara’s dogged research deserves–Hank Nuwer]

232, 233) 2013

Virginia State University

Petersburg, Virginia

Men of Honor Drownings

Marvell Edmonson

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.The four defendants charged with hazing were part of 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.

234) 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.

235) 2013

Boston University

Boston, Massachusetts

Sigma Alpha Mu

Alcohol related

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. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/student-dies-bu-frat-party-article-1.1280008

236) 2013

Baruch College

New York, New York

Pi Delta Psi

Chun “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 but physical pummeling was direct cause. On January 8, 2018, the national was expelled from Pennsylvania schools for 10 years and fined $112,500.

237) 2014

Penn State, Altoona, Pennsylvania

Phi Sigma Kappa

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.

238) 2014

California State University

Northridge, California

Pi Kappa Phi

The family of Armando Villa and his university claim hazing led to the death of the CSUN pledge left barefooted in the rugged Angeles Mountains and forced 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.

239) 2014

Clemson University Clemson, SC

Sigma Phi Epsilon

Details covered up or unknown

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. He was the second Clemson pledge to die at Lake Hartwell.

240) 2014

University of Albany

Albany, NY

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

Trevor Duffy died from acute alcohol poisoning after being convinced to chug 60 ounces of vodka. See the Wall Street Journal interview with Hank Nuwer.

241) 2014

West Virginia University (Morgantown, W.V.)

Kappa Sigma

Alcohol hazing

Nolan Burch died with a BAC of .493 following a hazing incident in which he was given at least one bottle of hard liquor. See the stophazing.org commentary by Hank Nuwer

242) 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.

243) 2014

FarmHouse Fraternity

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Lincoln, NE

Alcohol-fueled hazing

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

244) 2015

Beta Kappa Gamma

Louisiana State University; Baton Rouge, La.

Physical hazing

Praneet Karki, 22, died following exertion during extreme physical hazing involving the chapter’s annual so-called bonding event. He was born in Nepal.

245) 2015

University of South Carolina

Columbia, SC

Pi Kappa Alpha (alcohol overdose at a party)

The sudden death of Charlie Terreni, Jr. due to alcohol poisoning occurred at a late night chapter St. Patrick’s party and . All national fraternities regard the giving of alcohol to underage pledges to be a form of hazing.  A previous death of a newcomer to a campus group at the University of Missouri, Rolla, was considered to be hazing-related. After correspondence with fraternity leaers that disagree with me calling this a hazing death, I nonethless, given the circumstances, have decided as of May 6, 2017 to include the death of Mr. Terreni, Jr. on the list. As the 2017 death of Tim Piazza demonstrates, a chapter that allows a pledge to drink to the point of death must face consequences, no matter how unintended the fatality was.

246) 2016

Ferrum College

Ferrum, Virginia

Sigma Alpha Kappa

Michael Anthony Walker, 20, died in April from an a overdose in an incident that has resulted in providing alcohol to a minor and hazing charges. Charged with various offenses are six individuals.  

Three men served very short sentences:  Trevin Clark,  David Creedon, Michael Rucinski. Three had charges dropped.

Michael Anthony Walker

This is from the Roanoke paper:

“A$25 million wrongful death lawsuit by Melissa Seamster French, Walker’s mother, stemming from the 2016 hazing-related death of a Ferrum College student was settled last year for $544,000….The lawsuit argued that Ferrum College and the fraternity’s adviser failed to train, supervise and discipline Sigma Alpha Kappa and ensure it complied with state regulations and best practices regarding hazing. It said that the six fraternity members — officers, pledge master and big brother to Walker — failed to protect Walker from unsafe pledging activities, including hazing.”

247) 2016

University Of Nevada

Reno, Nevada

Sigma Nu

Pledging-related fall

A chapter at UNR made its pledges clean house and allowed underaged pledges to consume alcohol. Poor judgment led to the death of pledge Ryan Abele. It is listed here as a hazing-related death, despite an apparent reluctance of the Nevada Reno administration to label the tragedy a hazing death.  The Sigma Nu national has been very instrumental in fighting hazing. Hoping for transparency in the circumstances of this pledge death of a very accomplished young man at a well-established Nevada-Reno fraternity now banned for 15 years by the college. [Update 12/22/17 Ryan’s parents have filed a lawsuit.] A member of Sigma Nu in the Seventies acknowledged that he was injured in similar fashion during his pledging days. Link to one of several reports calling this a hazing death.

248) 2016

Texas State

Alpha Delta Pi

Accidental death at out-of-control, alcohol-fueled off-campus outing where hazing occurred with pledges assigned as security.

The death of a female attendee during an unsafe party thrown by multiple fraternity chapters (Pi Kappa Alpha, Alpha Tau Omega, Delta Tau Delta, Kappa Alpha) was a preventable tragedy that claimed the life of someone who was not being hazed herself.   The hazing that occurred within chapters co-sponsoring the party, as reported in press reports, was marked by alcohol abuse which saw numerous people pass out willy nilly at the scene.During the “Monster Mash” party attended by an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 persons, emergency medical personnel treated at least one person for an alcohol overdose. While pledges were acting as security in an act of servitude, first-year student Jordin Taylor, 20 years old, an attendee, was dragged by a malfunctioning bus  (there to haul attendees to and from a river tubing party). She was not found for 12 hours and then not by fraternity members, but rather by workmen sent there to fix the bus she lay under. An investigation was held, but the full circumstances of Taylor’s death remain murky to this day. Somehow she was struck by a bus and slipped under it (only to be dragged 500 feet without the driver or milling attendees noticing her plight). Significantly, a university investigation found that hazing of male pledges had occurred, and that numerous attendees had passed out at the site of the party. (Emergency service personnel were called to the scene but did not treat Taylor). Minors were served. At least one chapter told members to lie and say the event was BYO.  There is no indication Ms. Taylor herself had been hazed at the event. The following have been sued by Taylor’s father:

  • Skyline Party Bus Co., LLC
  • Burleson SMTX Properties, LLC
  • Brandon Burleson (employee overseeing the event for Skyline).
  • B&B Shuttles, LLC
  • VCD San Marcos River, LLC
  • Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity
  • Alpha Zeta Theta Chapter
  • Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity
  • Kappa Alpha Order Epsilon Iota
  • Delta Tau Delta Fraternity
  • Delta Tau Delta Zeta Delta Chapter

249) 2016

University of Louisiana, Lafayette

Kappa Sigma

Pedestrian killed by sleep-deprived pledge 

After days awake during Hell Week, Michael Gallagher, Jr. fell asleep at the wheel and his car slammed into pedestrian Rustam Nizamutdinov, 25, killing him. Local activists castigate the university for waiting until a civil suit occurred a year later before ULL officials admitted that the sleep deprivation qualified the death as hazing-related.  

250) 2016

Penn State

Alpha Tau Omega

Alcohol given pledge by individual brothers

Joe Dada died after drinking alcohol supplied by individual members and others not affiliated with the ATO chapter.  The case is similar to other instances where a national fraternity argues that it and a chapter should not be blamed for what individual members do. 

251) 2017

Penn State University

Beta Theta Pi

Eight men charged in PSU death of Tim Piazza received very little punishment, including house arrest in two cases. Members present when Tim Piazza lay dying included Brendan Young, Daniel Casey, Gary DiBileo, Luke Visser, Nick Kubera, Jonah Neuman, Joe Sala, and Michael Bonatucci.Tim’s parents have become nationally known antihazing advocates. The chapter’s adviser maintained that he was sleep in his room as a drunken night of partying transpired that included the fatal hazing of Tim Piazza who fell without anyone rendering aid or phoning 911 in a timely manner. 

252) 2017

Louisiana State University

Phi Delta Theta

Alcohol-related  hazing death following inane questioning and physical abuse

Jail time for two in Max Gruver Death: July 2019

Louisiana State University President F. King Alexander disclosed that police are investigating the sudden death of Maxwell (Max) Raymond Gruver, 18, as alcohol-related hazing that occurred at the Phi Delta Theta house, and that all Greek activities are suspended. The national Phi Delta Theta organization has thrown its support behind police and school officials to investigate the hazing.

 

East Baton Rouge Parish Prison charges against:.

  1. Matthew Alexander Naquin, 19, of Boerne, TX (charges of hazing and negligent homicide)
  2. Zachary Castillo, (charge of hazing)
  3. Elliott Eaton, 20, of New Orleans, La (charge of hazing)
  4. Patrick Forde, 20, Westwood, MA (charge of hazing)
  5. Sean Paul Gott, 21, of Lafayette, La (charge of hazing)
  6. Zachary Hall, 21, of Charlotte, NC (charge of hazing)
  7. Ryan Isto, 18, of Canada, (charge of hazing)
  8. Hudson Kirkpatrick, 19, of Baton Rouge, La (charge of hazing)
  9. Sean Pennison, 21, of Mandeville, La (charge of hazing)
  10. Nicholas Taulli, 19, of Cypress, TX (charge of hazing

253) 2017

Hazing Death (Alcohol-related Bottle exchange)

Florida State

Phi Kappa Phi

The alcohol-related death of Andrew Coffey occurred at a fraternity with recent discipline issues for hazing. The nine below faced a judge Feb. 6, 2018.

  • Luke Kluttz, 22
  • Clayton Muehlstein, 22
  • Brett Birmingham, 20
  • Connor Ravelo, 21
  • Christopher Hamlin, 20
  • Anthony Petagine, 21
  • Anthony Oppenheimer, 21
  • John Ray, 21
  • Kyle Bauer, 21

254) 2017

Texas State University

Phi Kappa Psi Hazing

Bottle gift

The practice of gifting or exchanging bottles of booze that a pledge is expected to guzzle immediately has claimed the life of Matthew (Matt) Ellis, a pledge. He died Nov. 13. One brother was charged with supplying the alcohol.

Matthew Ellis

255) 2017

University of Southern California

Phi Kappa Psi

A. Russell

Suicide allegedly a result of head injury caused by hazing A lawsuit by the mother of Alasdair Russell says that complications from a hazing head injury led to his suicide.

256) 2017

Hampden Sydney College (Virginia) swim team and Alpha Chi Sigma,  a chemical sciences association.

Allegations of hazing 

Harrison Cole

Under investigation and subject of a lawsuit: the death of Harrison Carter Cole, Hampden Sydney College, associated with the college swim team and Alpha Chi Sigma December 21, 2018: Joint Press Statement Issued by John P. Fishwick, Jr., counsel for Bill and Carol Ann Cole The parents and family of Harrison Carter Cole, Alpha Chi Sigma fraternity, on behalf of itself and various individual members of the fraternity, and Hampden-Sydney College reached an amicable settlement of $2,350,000 for all legal claims arising out of the untimely passing of Carter Cole on March 25, 2017 following a fraternity event. Carter’s family has lost a most beloved son and brother. The settlement allows all of the parties to avoid the emotional, legal and financial burdens and risks associated with litigation and trial. By: the parents and family of Harrison Carter Cole, Alpha Chi Sigma, on behalf of itself and various individual members of the fraternity, and Hampden-Sydney College.

257)  2017

Northwestern University

Alpha Kappa Alpha

Hazing claimed as contributor to a suicide

The parents of Jordan Hankins allege that hazing contributed to her depression and  suicide in January 2017. See the story in The Atlantic magazine.

258) 2018

University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY

Death of a Bystander (Death in accident following hazing of pledges) Car driven by Alpha Tau Omega Pledge

Marco Lee Shemwell, 4, died at a hospital of his injuries after being hit by what police said was an automobile driven by an ATO pledge. Police have charged the pledge with driving under the influence of alcohol. His attorney ha since put in a not-guilty plea. Newspaper accounts say under-aged pledges were served alcohol, a hazing offense, at a football tailgate party that day. Editor: Fundraiser for Marco Lee: https://www.wtvq.com/2018/09/19/fundraiser-family-boy-hit-car-raises-three-times-goal/

259) 2018

Texas A & M 

Phi Gamma Delta

Hazing

Joseph Little collapsed and died in August 2018 during pledging activities found by administrators to be hazing acts.. He had been accepted into Phi Gamma Delta (Fiji), the same chapter where Trey Walker died in 1997. The death first was called suspicious by law enforcement.

Image result for joseph little
Joe Little

260) 2018

Ohio University

Sigma Pi

Suspected hazing 

Collin Wiant, 18, passed out and subsequently died after drinking too much, according to a Sigma Pi member who had spoken to a 911 dispatcher. See this moving interview with Collin’s parents conducted by Tara Morgan of ABC-TV in Columbus. The ACTUAL cause of death was nitrous oxide ingestion. The parents are suing and label their son’s death as hazing-related. 

Image result for collin wiant
Collin Wiant

261) 2018

University of Texas.

Texas Cowboys

Distracted Driving

Parents allege sleep deprivation was a factor in accidental death The question. Was Sleep deprivation (a form of hazing) a factor in the death of a Texas Cowboys “Newman”? UT officials acknowledged serious hazing and animal abuse had occurred and expelled some members, but denied that sleep deprivation led to the death of a “New Man” trying to join  the Texas Cowboys Spirit Group at the University of Texas.  The pickup truck accident that killed new man Nicky Cumberland occurred right after the spirit group’s hazing and alcohol-fueled “retreat.” Background: A “retreat” once led to the death of Cowboys “New Man” Gabe Higgins–a death chronicled in “Wrongs of Passage.” Parents also plan a civil suit.

Image result for nicky cumberland
Nicky Cumberland

262) 2018

Texas Christian University

Fraternity hazing (Kappa Sigma)

Suicide by member charged with hazing offense

Andrew Walker committed suicide after police charged him with hazing and DUI. He was charged following a hazing in which a student was hospitalized for acute alcohol intoxication. He and Christopher Barker were alleged to have coerced pledges into drinking as many as 15 shots in rapid succession.  

Andrew WalkerAndrew Walker  

263) 2018

University of California at Riverside

Alpha Phi Alpha

Hazing a possible contributory factor in death

Parental allegations surfaced in September 2018 alleging that UC Riverside’s Tyler Hilliard was pledging and hazed prior to his death.  Here is the fraternity declaration.

Tyler Hilliard: His case is now a lawsuit

264) 2018

University of California, Santa Cruz

Theta Chi

Alcohol-related fatal fall.

Station KSBW first reported that a University of California, Santa Cruz fraternity (Theta Chi) chapter was expelled for a 2018 hazing death. As of July 28, 2019, the only student from Santa Cruz listed in the news as dying June 20, 2018 from an accidental fall is Alexander Beletsis. On October 31, USA Today’s Chris Quintana reported that Beletsis, 20, died following a fall linked to alcohol consumption, a not-so-infrequent cause of death in hazing tragedies. His family has filed a lawsuit. Carolyn Golz, College Administrative Officer for Cowell and Stevenson colleges, had called the death “an accident” back in June 2018.

265) 2019

Delaware State University

Kappa Alpha Psi

Hazing that allegedly led to sleep deprivation and a fatal auto accident

Marlon Jackson, 23, died and three other young men in the car were injured, one critically, when their car collided in the wrong lane with a pickup truck. 

266) 2019

University of California, Irvine

Sigma Alpha Epsilon

Alcohol-related

Noah Domingo died at a Sigma Alpha Epsilon event. The cause was acute alcohol intoxication. Noah’s father said the youth’s death was the culmination of many illicit pledging activities that constituted hazing. The chapter was tossed by the school and its national. SAE has been called “America’s deadliest fraternity” by Bloomberg News.  Police called the death alcohol-related but said no hazing is involved. Most fraternity programs forbid giving alcohol to minors under the description of a hazing offense. 

Noah Caleb Domingo

267) 2019

University of Buffalo (New York)

Sigma Pi

Death following alleged/suspected hazing linked to illness and exertion (the latter the definition of physical hazing)

Sebastian Serafin-Bazan

The University of Buffalo reported the death of student Sebastian Serafin-Bazan. The case is under a police investigation. Several members or pledges fled as Sebastian lay dying, according to witnesses. Link to Buffalo News story

268) 2019

Lowell High School, Massachusetts

Suicide blamed on hazing and bullying

The Boston Herald on April 21, 2019 linked the suicide of Anna Sophia Aslanian, 16, to hazing and bullying. 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

269) 2019

Cal State Fullerton

Chi Sigma Phi sorority

Allegations that alcohol-accompanied hazing

Bae Castro

A lawsuit was filed by the parents of Bea Castro alleging she was coerced to drink a lethal amount of alcohol in a hazing incident. 

270) 2019

Washington State University

Alpha Tau Omega.

Charges placed in alcohol-related hazing

This is an update on the tragic death of pledge Samuel Martinez. June 3, 2022. Pullman police have now made arrests in the tragic death. Good call. 

271) 2019

Cornell University

Phi Kappa Psi

Allegations of alcohol-related hazing and humiliating hazing at an unauthorized  dirty rush party

Citing a family’s frustration over a lack of information related to the death of Antonio (Anthony) Tsialas, family attorney David Bianchi settled a lawsuit against Cornell, the fraternity and individual members. 

Parents John and Flavia Tsialas began a foundation.

Anthony Tsialas

Although Tsialas died in October, his death at a Christmas theme party was reminiscent in several ways to the death of Chad Saucier at an Auburn Phi Delta Theta Christmas theme party where pledges dressed as elves. Many disturbing details have been uncovered by a private investigator. In particular, the alcohol served and poured that night was dangerously excessive. Still, not enough details have emerged yet for charges to stick. His parents have offered a reward for information. 

Anthony Tsialas. Gone in October

Here is a copy of the complaint.

COME NOW, the Plaintiffs, JOHN TSIALAS and FLAVIA TOMASELLO, as Personal
Representatives of the Estate of Antonio Tsialas, deceased, and hereby sue the Defendants,
CORNELL UNIVERSITY, PHI KAPPA PSI FRATERNITY, INC., NEW YORK ALPHA OF
Pm KAPPA PSI ASSOCIATION, INC., ANDREW SCHERR, SHANE ROHE, WILLIAM
GRANATH, RYAN BERMAN, NOLAN BERKENFELD, PIETRO PALAZZOLO RUSSO,
FELIPE HANUCH and JOHN JACOBS,

Background: The story here concerns the first confirmed fraternity hazing death–also at Cornell in a gorge tragedy. 

272) 2019 death reported in January, 2021

University of Nebraska

Lambda Phi Epsilon

Suicide following hazing

A family member claims Rahil Jalil committed suicide after being coerced to urinate on fellow pledges who disobeyed senior members. He was 18.

273) 2019 death reported 2021

Bloomsburg University

Kappa Sigma fraternity and  Alpha Sigma Tau sorority

The family of Justin King is suing for wrongful death. After partaking in alcohol-related hazing, King fell over an embankment to his death.

https://www.inquirer.com/news/bloomsburg-fraternity-sorority-death-freshman-lawsuit-20210226.html?fbclid=IwAR1zS1bhHlzXazJ1EQwVfGDt8ou8foVLzUslWK2xKR2YeY1J-otEsvUlwDc

 

274) 2021

Lyon College

Baseball Team

Alleged alcohol-related initiation (UNDER REVIEW BY POLICE)

James Gilfedder,  a Lyon College baseball player, died during alleged hazing.  Gilfedder’s parents told Arkansas media that their son’s body was battered, and he consumed a fifth of alcohol after a team “hazing party.”  Police are waiting for autopsy results before commenting.  Media said the house where he parties was owned by an assistant coach. 

Update:

Batesville Police Chief Alan Cockrill spoke via telephone to the Batesville Daily Guard regarding statements made by the family of James Gilfedder, the Lyon College baseball player that was found dead in a dorm room on Saturday.

Cockrill told the Batesville Daily Guard that his investigators “saw no sign of foul play at this time,” and that they were waiting on autopsy results and the results of toxicology reports.

“Until we get those back, we don’t know what happened,” Cockrill said.

275) February 2021

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU)

Richmond, VA.

Delta Chi

Alcohol-related hazing death

A family member alleges Adam Oakes died during a big-little bottle exchange. Medical Examiner says alcohol the cause of death.

276 Bowling Green State University

Pi Kappa Alpha

Alcohol related Hazing

 

Stone Foltz died allegedly after consuming a handle of alcohol, according to his family and friends. Eight members have been charged.

    ____________________________________________________

UNCONFIRMED-CAUSE DEATHS IN THE NEWS:

 

Allegations have arisen that dehydration due to water deprivation may have existed in a hazing culture at Arabia Mountain High School in Georgia. What is a known fact Elyse Purefoy, 17, a dance team member collapsed and died. This tragedy has not been confirmed nor denied as tied to hazing. I am tracking the tragedy as more info becomes available. HN

on

Updates as soon as I can locate more information.

Reluctantly, I am keeping the case of Dylan Hernandez listed as only a possible hazing death while awaiting response to a FOIA request. Although the death seems suspicious, a local D.A. ruled differently.  He said this: The tragic 2019 death of Dylan Hernandez, 19, who fell from his bunk after attending a party has no basis for hazing or manslaughter charges, according to a San Diego district attorney.

______________

FYI

This list contains the minimum number of deaths from such causes.

An unknown number were dismissed as accidents. News to watch: Currently under investigation and not on 2018 list: Monmouth University, February 2018. Has not officially been linked to an official or illicit pledging event by the school but did follow an unauthorized fraternity party. Activist Evelyn Piazza criticizes Monmouth for a lack of transparency. Here is what is known: Police and prosecutor reports that an accident in the wee hours of February 3, 2018, claimed the life of Monmouth student Dane Fante.  Fante was a passenger in the Audi driven by Jose Rivera, a Monmouth Tau Kappa Epsilon member. Toxicology tests have been performed. Mr. Fante was pronounced dead upon arrival at a local hospital. Monmouth experienced the 1974 death of pledge William Flowers who suffocated during a fraternity incident. The interview with mother Dorothy Flowers is included in “Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing.”

Not on the list: Disputed cases dismissed by police as a death by non-hazing causes. Also, deaths reported to be hazing deaths that either did not happen or were clearly an accident.

  1. Buffalo State College, Bradley Doyle, Alpha Phi Alpha. A former BSC basketball point guard, Doyle died a few months prior to graduation. Alpha Phi Alpha was suspended pending an investigation by police. Police ruled out hazing as a cause. Doyle’s family and attorney said they would pursue a civil case. To date, there has been nothing further to report in 2017.
  2. SUNY Binghamton, Conor Donnelly, Alpha Sigma Phi. Conor Donnelly perished in a fall while intoxicated. Police ruled it a non-hazing.
  3.  2012. Chico State University (California). Sigma Pi; alcohol-related incident.The administration of Chico State suspended all Greek groups for a semester following the birthday celebration death of pledge Mason Sumnicht. The number of birthday drinking deaths is not kept by any researcher to my knowledge.
  4. The death of 19-year-old Zach Wardrip, a visitor from Indiana, who died inside a Murray State University fraternity house of an alcohol overdose was ruled an accident and no charges are pending.  http://www.wpsdlocal6.com/…/investigators-withholding-caus…/   This appears unrelated to hazing.
  5. In 2016, Indiana State University Sigma Chi members either served or allowed to be served a vast amount of alcohol to Yorgo Karnezis who got into a boat that capsized. He drowned. It was not hazing or a crime, but is an example of negligent conduct and a lack of supervision.
  6. The New York Daily News of December 11, 1931, reported the death of Fred H. Hoppe of Alton, IL, in a prank hazing for Lambda Chi Alpha at the University of Alabama. While it is true that Hoppe was seriously injured while climbing a flagpole to measure it as a condition of pledging, he recovered from the fifty-foot fall. 

 

7. While a small number of papers reported the death of Delta Delta Delta coed Georgia Stevens, 18, as a hazing death, the University of Texas sorority tragedy was actually an accident during formal initiation. Her flammable fishnet gown brushed a candle and she went up in flames and ran away in a panic. Two sorority sisters were injured while beating out the flames. The death was a tragedy, not a hazing, nor a prank. Source: The [Shreveport] Times, April 20, 1946. 

Georgia Stevens, Delta Delta Delta initiation death (non-hazing)

8. While some papers reported the 1921 death of Montress Freeman as a hazing death, he actually was shot while trying to shear the hair of a friend and student at a rival college to celebrate the Howard University (Birmingham) vs. Birmingham Southern football rivalry. It was therefore a prank gone wrong, not a hazing incident.

9. The Austin American headline on April 25, 1947 said four died in a Caltech interclass hazing.  None died.

10) The University of New Hampshire chapter of Acacia was booted off campus in 1991. But the chapter put the blame for the death of 18-year-old Todd Cruikshank in a roof fall on him, saying he like others in the house and above it had chosen to drink voluntarily. 

11) The death of William A. Clare in a Purdue University Phi Gamma Delta hazing was erroneously reported by some newspapers in 1904 as a hazing death. He did not die in the initiation but did incur a serious illness. Papers accused the chapter and an attending physician of a coverup.

12) Frank Miller was hazed by Purdue in 1904, but did not die. John Mount did not die in a hazing at Chicago Dental School.  There were not six sorority deaths in the early 1900s.  The errors in Wikipedia and elsewhere began here in this partially true, partially false front-page story (Topeka Daily Capital).

13) Yes, this wife did die in a parachute club “initiation” in 1952, but in no way can the death be linked to hazing by definition. This is just a sad case. https://www.newspapers.com/image/66313495/?terms=initiation%2Bdeath

14) The 1999 Texas A & M bonfire deaths were a fun-filled “tradition” that had been improperly supervised for years and was a tragedy-in-the-making for years. 12 people perished and many more were injured. No, it was not hazing per se, but it was and is an example of campus administration negligence and lack of safety precautions connected to a tradition.

15) A letter to the editor of the Fairbanks Daily Miner (in which I was named) erroneously stated that a basketball player named was killed in a 1990 hazing at North Carolina. An 18-year-old was paralyzed for a time after a foolish hazing, not killed. He was a baseball player at the University of Northern Colorado. A baseball assistant was reprimanded for allowing a silly initiation involving sliding into mud puddles. The player wore a halo for some time but returned to school. The letter is a good example of why newspapers need to factcheck claims in a letter to the editor before blindly printing them.

16) As I reported in two of my books, no truth whatsoever is in the urban legend that a Cornell fraternity pledge was held above a gorge and accidentally dropped to his death. Somehow, this unfortunate homespun story came out of the 1873 death of a Kappa Alpha Society pledge who did accidentally fall over the side of a gorge while on a hazing walkabout.

17) The Lancaster (PA) Sunday News erroneously reported that a 22-year old member of the George Washington University Delta Phi Epsilon professional foreign service fraternity died during an initiation stunt.  My research shows that a St. Louis resident was injured in the stunt but survived. 

18) Although the drowning death of George De Armon, Jr., 18, of Gary, Indiana, occurred during freshman orientation at Lakeland College, his death did not occur during initiation ceremonies, according to the Sheboygan (WI) Press of July 14, 1980. He was swimming in a large campus pond behind some friends in a canoe when he suddenly yelled for help. He went under and the friends were unable to revive him. Years later, a Lakeland College football player also drowned in that large pond. 

19) The tragic 2019 death of Dylan Hernandez, 19, who fell from his bunk after attending a party has no basis for hazing or manslaughter charges, according to a San Diego district attorney. I am now investigating this case–Hank Nuwer

*20) 2020.  Louisiana State University, Phi Kappa Psi. Hazing-related but not Hazing per se/Suicide of a pledgee’s girlfriend after pledges storm her room to help intoxicated pledge brother. LSU is under a federal investigation for its handling of a serious alcohol-related hazing incident. After  a Phi Kappa Psi pledge was rushed to an emergency room by Phi Kappa Psi pledge brothers to get him medical health, the young woman harboring the pledge took her life.  There have been no known deaths of pledges, band members, athletes, club members or high school students attached to hazing incidents. However, it occasionally happens that a previously undetected hazing incident comes to light in a civil lawsuit a year after the death. –HN Link: https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/article_0699818a-1331-11eb-8689-23f8f5b80014.html

21) James Brier was hazed while trying to gain admission into the Manatee High School “Interact” Club sponsored by the Bradenton (FL) Rotary Club. Alcohol was served and he was hazed. He behaved badly and was subsequently bullied by classmate John (Juan) Albert Acosta, son of a Cuba-born physician, Jose Acosta.

John (Juan) Acosta, Convicted

 Acosta killed Brier with his bare fist in a sucker punch, and then pounded the unconscious boy’s head into a curb, according to court testimony.  John Albert Acosta lost an appeal.

(10-19-01) (Herald-Tribune staff photo by Carolyn Kaster) *Digital image –Murder victim James Brier, 16, was beaten to death by 17-year-old John Acosta Thur., Oct. 18, 2001 in a parking lot on the 2900 block of 6th Ave. West in Bradenton. This photo of Brier was taken Sept. 19, 2001.

Acosta served a nine-year sentence for homicide. The Interact club was closed by the school.

22) Charles William Hill, AKA Charlie Hill, 19, of Lexington, NC, a former standout high school football player, died as a passenger in 1952 when thrown from a 1950 Ford convertible after the driver of the car–a Sigma Chi pledge brother–failed to yield to a lumber truck at the intersections of NC Highway 41 and Highway 74. An inquest was held on the collision, but no charges were brought against driver Walter Converse, 19, then of Spartanburg, S.C., a Sigma Chi pledge from the University of North Carolina. Pledges Hill, Converse, and Frank C. (Skippy) Roddey were on a road trip with a full Sigma Chi brother named Raymond Collins, son of the owner of a chain of department stores. A request from this moderator has been made of the only survivor, Converse, now 88, to inquire about the purpose of the trip and to update this entry. Newspapers at the time said the Sigma Chi pledges and brother Collins were headed to a beach house reserved by Sigma Chi for the weekend, which coincided with an annual Azalea Festival. Other UNC fraternities also were on the road in late March of 1952  to attend the festival for “partying” as a local paper reported. No charges of hazing or a pledge sneak were raised by reporters at the time. The driver of the lumber truck and the other three occupants were taken to a hospital, treated, and released. Hill’s funeral service was March 30, 1952.

23) 1885. A Hazleton, Pennsylvania school hazing death in a gauntlet cannot be confirmed.  (Wikipedia lists this as a definite death as a result of news coverage.  It is likely a reporter took a serious beating and erroneously reported a boy had died. Yes, a hazing occurred but the boy’s death was likely erroneously reported locally and through bad journalism of the day became a national story about a supposed hazing death. )

Dozens of newspapers reported that the “young” unnamed son of Edward Turnbach died of injuries from a beating administered by fellow students on September 19. The boy had to run between two lines of boys that struck him as he went by. After the boy took blows, he went to the back of the line and pummeled the next child.  June 20, 2021: I have ruled out these sons as possible (Edward, John, Sargeant). The only possibility is Charles Turnbach, born 1879. A Mr. Eby of the Hazleton school board asked the superintendent, a Mr. D. A. Harmon, for details about the “victim,” not the “deceased.” Harmon told the board all boys had been reprimanded, according to the Hazleton Sentinel of Sept. 23, 1885. The unnamed boy thought to have injured they boy denied the charge. See Link.

 Please contact the moderator if you have additional info.