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Fresno Bee: Cause of death article

Coroner: Fresno State freshman died of ‘acute intoxication’

By BoNhia Lee- The Fresno Bee

The Fresno State freshman who died after a night
of drinking at a fraternity house near campus
died of complications of acute intoxication, the
Fresno County Coroner’s Office said Monday.

Philip Dhanens’ blood-alcohol level was 0.36 at
the time of his death, Coroner David Hadden said.
Generally, a level of 0.40 is enough to kill
someone, but the lethal level can vary, depending on the person, Hadden said.

Dr. Venu Gopal, the chief forensic pathologist
who conducted the autopsy, said Dhanen had
swelling of the brain as a result of his alcohol consumption.

The strapping 18-year-old from Bakersfield was
only a couple weeks into his first semester of
college when he pledged with the Theta Chi fraternity.

On Aug. 31, he went to a party at the
fraternity’s off-campus house, where alcohol was
reportedly abundant. Two days later, Dhanens died at a Fresno hospital.

Hadden said the autopsy results took a while
because his office also did tests to determine
whether Dhanens had any drugs in his system. The tests came back negative.

Theta Chi’s recognition has been suspended by the
university and by the fraternity’s national
headquarters at least until Fresno police and
university leaders finish their investigation into Dhanens’ death.

Dhanens’ death is Fresno State’s first such
fatality since early 2006, when 19-year-old Danny
Daniels Jr. was found dead in a room at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house.

Daniels had a blood-alcohol level of .34 — more
than four times the legal driving limit for
intoxication. Fresno police said Daniels died
after drinking at a Phi Gamma Delta party that
was attended by as many as 70 people.

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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