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Eyewitness on bus describes death of Robert Champion on Bus C

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Excerpt: rst student to speak publicly among those charged with crimes in the hazing scandal at Florida A&M University has told HBO’s Real Sports he tried to protect the drum major who died.

Rikki Wills, who is among 11 students charged with felonies after the death of Robert Champion in November, told Real Sports contributor Frank Deford he and other drum majors tried to shield Champion from blows by other members of FAMU’s Marching 100 band delivered in an initiation called “Crossing Bus C.”

The story aired Tuesday evening on HBO.

The ritual involved walking from the front to the back of a parked bus, while dodging blows from other band members delivered by sticks, belts and fists.

“Robert started panicking. … He was like, ‘I can’t breathe, can’t breathe,’ ” said Wills about Champion’s reaction after the beating. “He said he couldn’t see. … He started saying, ‘Oh Lord, Jesus, please help me. Please help me.’ Those were probably the last words he said.”

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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