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Clemson tragedy claims young athlete and Sigma Nu

From the Greenville News

Clemson freshman’s body found at frat house
Teen was Greenville High grad, grandson of longtime lawmaker

By Paul Alongi
STAFF WRITER

A Clemson University freshman who was a Greenville High School graduate and
the grandson of a longtime state legislator was found dead Sunday at a
fraternity house, according to Oconee County Coroner Karl Addis.

One of Benjamin Garrison Sprague’s frat brothers found the teen lying on a
futon at Sigma Nu’s off-campus house near Seneca at 7:40 a.m., Addis said.

An autopsy will be performed today.

He said Sprague, a member of Sigma Nu, had attended a party there the night
before.

Sprague, 18, was the grandson of T. Ed Garrison, a Democratic state
representative and senator from 1959-1987.

He was a general engineering major who graduated from Greenville High
earlier this year and played center for the Red Raiders’ football team,
said family friend Jeff Dezen.

“Ben is one of the most brilliant, loving, kind young men I have ever
known,” Dezen said, “and I have known him since he was a little boy.”

Sprague became the seventh Clemson student to die this semester and the
second during the weekend.

Ralph Nathaniel Pinnock Jr., 21, lost control of his motorcycle and
collided with a pickup on Highlands Highway near Walhalla about 1:20 p.m.
Saturday, Addis said. Pinnock, of Columbia, was a senior majoring in
chemical engineering, said university spokeswoman Robin Denny.

Clemson plans to offer counseling services to its 17,000 students, she said.

“This is exam week,” Denny said. “It’s an especially difficult time to be
dealing with this very sad news.””

Clemson placed Sigma Nu on interim suspension, pending an investigation by
its Office of Community and Ethical Standards, Denny said. Sigma Nu’s
executive director in Lexington, Va., couldn’t be reached for comment.

The Oconee Sheriff’s Office is also investigating Sprague’s death and has
asked for help from the State Law Enforcement Division, said SLED Inspector
Richard Hunton. Sheriff James E. Singleton couldn’t be reached for comment.

Sprague is the son of Joel and Gaye Sprague of Greenville and has an older
brother, Jay, who attends Clemson, Dezen said. Relatives wanted to grieve
in private Sunday, he said.

Garrison, the namesake of Clemson’s livestock arena, owned Denver Downs
Farm on Clemson Highway for years. His son Bart Garrison also a Clemson
graduate, died in a silo accident on the family’s farm in May 1990.

Sprague was an outstanding athlete and scholar, Dezen said. He played on
the Red Raiders’ soccer team. Greenville County Schools honored him for
being one of 12 students who never missed a day of high school.

“In his intelligence, his spirit and his joy for life, Ben Sprague was a
giant,” Dezen said.

Staff writer E. Richard Walton contributed to this story.

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. 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 new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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