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Breaking News from Rider: Channel 3–Gary Devercelly death

5 Charged In Rider Univ. Hazing Death

Two high-ranking Rider University administrators have been indicted in the March 2007 hazing death of a freshman student.

Mercer County prosecutor Joseph Bocchini announced aggravated hazing charges against Dean of Students Anthony Campbell and Director of Greek Life Ada Badgley for 18-year-old Gary DeVercelly’s death this spring.

Also indicted were student leaders of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity that DeVercelly was pledging to join — Adriano DiDonato, 22, Dominic Olsen, 21, and Michael Tourney, 21.

DeVercelly of Long Beach, Calif. died of alcohol poisoning after a fraternity hazing event.

A police investigation revealed that DeVercelly participated in a “Family Drink” tradition as part of the fraternity’s pledge process, during which all of the pledges consumed several shots of hard alcohol — and in some instances entire bottles — in less than one hour.

Through the investigation, it was also learned that 27 of the 28 students that participated in the “Family Drink” tradition were under the legal drinking age of 21.

DeVercelly was transported to Capital Health System’s Fuld Campus in Trenton after the game and was later pronounced dead.

According to an autopsy, the medical examiner found DeVercelly’s blood alcohol level to be .426. The legal limit in New Jersey is .08.

A second student, 19-year-old William Williams, was taken to the hospital with DeVercelly at the time but was treated in the emergency room for alcohol poisoning and released.

Rider University is not a dry campus and students 21 years of age and older can drink in their dorm if no one under the age of 21 is present.

Aggravated hazing is a fourth-degree charge and carries a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison and a fine of $10,000 if the accused are convicted.

By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. In April of 2024, the Alaska Press Club awarded him first place in the Best Columnist division and Best Humorist, second place.

He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily--http://realalaskadaily.com and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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