Hazing News

Hazing Deaths: a Grim Accounting by Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer’s Chronology of Deaths Among U.S. College Students as a result of hazing, initiation, and pledging-related accidents (without
criminal charges and/or admissions of hazing by a group or individuals).

Site copyrighted by Hank Nuwer, from Wrongs of Passage (revised ed. 2001, Indiana University Press) and book-in-progress, “A Weed in the Garden of Academe,” by Hank Nuwer (anticipated pub date, 2007).

FYI: This list contains the minimum number of deaths from such causes. The section of the title “of hazing, initiation, and Pledging-Related Accidents” is used because of legal advice due to strong attempts by interest groups to disassociate themselves from certain episodes described below. In my books I have tried to reserve the term “hazing” for those incidents that have been so identified by state and institutional authorities. If a state hazing law has not been invoked (or a grand jury failed to indict), or if a school or victim’s family said hazing did not occur even though the fatal occurrence closely matched standard definitions of hazing, I use the term “Initiation and Pledging-related Accident” instead of the term “hazing.” Obviously, even with 44 laws on the books, the definition of hazing is often disputed by individuals and their organizations–and even
occasionally by grieving families of deceased pledges who prefer to think their loved ones died following “horseplay.” At the same time, some examined deaths due to alcohol use may not fall under the category og hazing. Some deaths may reveal other hazing-related deaths, including the deaths of members at the hands of other members disciplining them, deaths of members during pledge sneaks (pledges taking harsh action against members), and other less typical actions resulting in deaths.

a) Note: since no official statistics of hazing deaths are kept by a legitimate government agency, this clearinghouse of deaths reported in the United States relies on published accounts (newspapers, university histories, other books, and in one case [1838] a family history). Since state laws include felonies for hazing in some states, it is my hope that Uniform Crime Reports or another legitimate federal agency will take over tracking of deaths and felony hazing (along with death cases in initiations where the actual conviction is other than hazing such as serving alcohol to a minor or manslaughter). There also is, in my opinion, a need for more surveys conducted in a responsible manner to track actual incidents of hazing in such groups as collegiate fraternal organizations, bands and athletic teams. For example, it clearly can be shown that the number of articles reporting sexual assaults in high school athletic organizations is up, but there is no way of knowing whether or not those numbers are actually increasing unless surveys are taken or a legitimate agency tracks these. Until a legitimate agency tracks data, media reports of incidents are the only means to keep the public from going back to the days when deaths and serious injuries during hazing were shrugged off by institutional spokespersons as “accidental” or “isolated” cases.

b) Judging from correspondence I’ve received, the general public believes hazing deaths in colleges are higher in number than can be documented. These deaths below can be verified although information related to several early deaths is particularly limited.. I try hard to add any information that might cast doubt on whether a death was actually hazing caused or where the death cause was disputed by a family, members, an educational institution, or an organization.

c) I am open to listening to suggestions and to criticism that can make this a better site. My contention unequivocably is that a legitimate government agency needs to take over the task of recording deaths and criminal hazing statistics.  Surveys and accurate crime reports are needed to determine whether serious  hazing incidents are increasing or decreasing The number of media articles reporting hazing is clearly higher than ever but that may simply indicate parents, victims, institutions, teams and fraternal organizations are more educated on the subject and thus more likely to come forward when an incident occurs. My position is that even one death a year is one too many, and that prevention is everyone’s responsibility–including that of a potential victim and that of the organization he or she is joining.–Hank Nuwer

1) 1838
Franklin Seminary (Kentucky)
Class Hazing

John Butler Groves died in a hazing incident, according to a family history.

2) 1847
Amherst College (Massachusetts)
Class 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.

3) 1873
Cornell University (New York)
Kappa Alpha Society

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.

4) 1892
Yale University (Connecticut)
Delta Kappa Epsilon

A blindfolded student 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.

5) 1894
Cornell University
Bystander accidental death

A non-Cornell bystander accidentally died during a class prank.

6) 1899
Cornell University
Kappa Alpha Society

Pledge Edward F. Berkeley drowned while completing a pledging errand.

7) 1900
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Class Scrap

Hugh C. Moore died following a snapped neck in a traditional fight between first- and second-year students.

8) 1900
United States Military Academy (New York)
Illness that revealed hazing abuses

Although the death of plebe Oscar Booz was considered illness-caused by a committee of inquiry, those members of the U.S. House of Representatives on the committee determined that he also had been maliciously hazed by upperclassmen.

9) 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.

10) 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.

11) 1912
University of North Carolina
Class hazing

Freshman Isaac Rand bled to death following a stunt in which his throat was accidentally sliced by a broken bottle.

12) 1913
Purdue University (Indiana)
Class hazing

Frances 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.

13) 1914
St. John’s Military College (Maryland)
Class Hazing

William R. Bowlus was shot and killed while hazing a first-year student.

14) 1915
University of Kentucky
Class Hazing-Related Accident

Freshman Eldridge Griffith was accidentally killed during a celebration over his class’s victory in a traditional class contest.

15) 1915
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.

16) 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.

17) 1919
Colgate University New York)
Class hazing

Freshman Frank McCullough drowned when he tried swimming to shore after sophomores abandoned him on an island.

18)  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.

19) 1922
Hamilton College (New York)
Class Hazing or Horseplay

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.

20) 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.

21) 1923
Franklin and Marshall College (Pennsylvania)
Class Hazing

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

22) 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.

23) 1928
University of Texas
Delta Kappa Epsilon

Pledge Nolte McElroy, an athlete, died from the electric shock when he had to crawl through mattresses charged with electric current.

24) 1929
Indiana University
Delta Chi
Illness-related Hazing

George Steinmetz Jr. died from lung disease after being physically hazed. The death was blamed by his mother on hazing, but cited as illness-related by university then-administrators who nonetheless strongly condemned all acts of hazing.

25) 1940
University of Missouri
Theta Nu Epsilon
Alcohol-related hazing

Hubert L. Spake Jr. died 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.

26) 1945
St. Louis University (Missouri)
Phi Beta Pi
Falal Accident During Hazing

Robert 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.

27) 1949
Brown University (Rhode Island)
Fraternity Rush Night

While on a tour of a fraternity house intended as a rush event to introduce pledges to different fraternal chapters, H. T. Gehl, 19, fell down a set of stairs and died two days later.

28) 1950
University of California, Berkeley
Sigma Pi
Death Following Hazing Dropoff

Pledge Gerald L. Foletta died when hit by an automobile after members dropped him off in the countryside.

29) 1950
Wittenberg University (Ohio)
Alpha Tau Omega
Death Following Hazing Dropoff

Pledge Dean J. Niswonger was hit by a car as he slept after being dropped off on a road far from campus.

30) 1954
Swarthmore College (Pennsylvania)
Delta Upsilon
Death during Hazing Dropoff

Peter Mertz was killed by a passing car after members abandoned him in the country.

31)  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 unfamiliar to him.

32) 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.

33) 1959
University of Southern California
Kappa Sigma
Physical hazing (eating ritual)

Pledge Richard Swanson choked to death while trying to swallow a slab of liver at the request of members.

34) 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.

35) 1967
Baylor University (Texas)
Physical hazing (eating ritual)

John E. Clifton died while choking down a foul concoction 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.

36) 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 was ruled accidental by authorities, and a family member argued that her death should be called a prank, not hazing.

37) 1971
Tulane University
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.

38) 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, he plunged into a gorge and died.

39) 1972
University of Maryland
Sigma Alpha Mu
Physical hazing

Member Brian Cursack collapsed and died after performing calisthenics during pledging.

40) 1973
Lehigh University (Pennsylvania)
Delta Phi
Pledge leaped from car during abduction

Pledge Mitchell 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.

41, 42, 43, 44) 1974
Grove City College (Pennsylvania)
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 M. Elliot, John Curtin, Rudolph Mion, and Gary Gilliland, all 18.

45) 1974
Monmouth College (New Jersey)
Zeta Beta Tau
Physical hazing

William E. Flowers, 19, suffocated after being entombed in a grave members asked him to dig on a sandy ocean beach.

46) 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.

47) 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.

48) 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.

49) 1975
University of Nevada, Reno
Sundowners (local drinking fraternity)
Alcohol-related initiation drinking death

Pledge John Davies 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.

50) 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.

51) 1975
Cheyney University of Pennsylvania (then-Cheyney State College)
Freshman-sophomore class hazing
Physical hazing

During a brutal session, an upperclassman slammed freshman Theodore Ben into a wall. He went into a coma and died. The then-college president denied all responsibility.

52) 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.

53) 1976
St. John’s University (New York)
Pershing Rifles
Bayonet stabbing during hazing incident

ROTC pledge Thomas Fitzgerald, a student at another school 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.

54) 1977
North Carolina Central University
Unrecognized renegade chapter
Physical hazing

A pledge died performing heavy exercises at the request of an outlaw group which falsely had claimed a connection with a national historically black fraternity.

55) 1977
University of Pennsylvania
Unrecognized renegade chapter
Physical hazing

A pledge 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.

56) 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.

57) 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.

58) 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.
59) 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.

60) 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

61 and 62) 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.

63) 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.

64) 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.

65) 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.

66) 1980
University of Missouri
Phi Kappa Psi
Pledging-related incident then-termed horseplay

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.

67) 1980
Ithaca College
Delta Kappa
Physical hazing

Pledge Joseph Parella, 18, died exercising in a steam room.

68) 1980
University of Lowell (Massachusetts)
Delta Kappa Phi
Physical hazing

Pledge Steve Call lapsed into a coma and died following heavy exertion exercises.

69) 1980
University of South Carolina
Sigma Nu
Alcohol-related Hazing Death

Pledge Barry Ballou choked to death after passing out at a ritualized drinking session attended by an alumnus and members.

70) 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.

71) 1982
Towson State University
Alpha Omega Lambda
Sleep-deprivation related accident during servitude act

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.

72 and 73) 1982
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.

74) 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.

75) 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.

76) 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.

77) 1984
American International College
Zeta Chi local chapter of athletic team fraternity
Alcohol-related hazing death

Pledge Jay Lenaghan, 19, died following a drinking marathon with a blood-alcohol level of 0.48.

78) 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.

79) 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.

80) 1985
University of Missouri, Columbia
Lambda Chi Alpha
Alcohol-related Pledging-related Accident

A rushee being driven home from a rush party by a member was killed in a car accident.

81) 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 gradepoint average required for pledging eligibility.

82)  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.

83) 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.

84) 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.

85) 1987
Stanford University
Zeta Psi
Alcohol-related Pledging Death

Rushee David Dunshee, 20, died during a fraternity party held on a lake. Alcohol was a factor in the death.

86) 1988
Rutgers University
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.

87) 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.

88) 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.

89) 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.

90) 1988
Rider College (New Jersey)
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.

91) 1989
Morehouse College (Georgia)
Alpha Phi Alpha
Physical hazing

Pledge Joel Harris, 18, who had an enlarged heart, died after rough physical hazing.

92) 1990
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.

93) 1990
Western Illinois University
Lacrosse Club
Athletic hazing

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.

94) 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.

95) 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.

96) 1991
Trinity University (Texas)
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.

97) 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.

98) 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.

99) 1992
Frostburg State University
Phi Sigma Kappa
Pledging-related death

An ill and exhausted J.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.

100) 1993
Auburn University (Alabama)
Phi Delta Theta
Alcohol-related Death

Chad Saucier, a pledge even though he was a community college student, died from alcohol intoxication following an annual bottle exchange between members and pledges.

101) 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.

102) 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.

103) 1994
Southeast Missouri State
Kappa Alpha Psi
Physical Hazing

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

104) 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.

105) 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.

106) 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 Walker was cleaning the house, members insisted no hazing had occurred. Walker’s family argued hazing was a factor in his death.

107 and 108) 1997
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.

109) 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.

110) 1997
Louisiana State University
Sigma Alpha Epsilon
Alcohol-related Pledging death

Benjamin Wynne, 20, died at the start of the school year while celebrating his acceptance as a pledge. His alcohol level was nearly six times the legal limit.

111) 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.

112) 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.

113) 1998
University of Washington
Delta Kappa Epsilon
Suicide following 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.

114) 1998
University of Michigan
Phi Delta Theta and Chi Omega
Fall of Pledge

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.

115) 1998
University of Mississippi
Sigma Chi

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.

116) 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.

117) 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.

118) 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.

119) 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.

120) 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.

121) 2000
Chico State University (California)
Pi Kappa Phi
Alcohol death
Pledge Adrian Heideman died after being encouraged to drink. Some members, including chapter officers, received a light jail sentence.

122) 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.

123) 2001
Tennessee State University
Omega Psi Phi
Pledging death

A coroner wrote that Joseph T. Green died during an exercise session suggested by members.

124) 2001
University of Miami
Kappa Sigma
Accidental drowning of pledge (hazing was ruled out until a May 2002 statement by attorney reopened case)

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.

125) 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.

126)  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.

127 and 128) 2002
San Diego State University
Tau Kappa Epsilon
High-speed  Pledging-elated 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.

129 and 130) 2002
California State, Los Angeles
Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority,
Drowning but hazing as yet never established

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 had been placed by 2006, however.

131) 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.

132) 2002
University of Maryland
Phi Sigma Kappa
Alcohol Link Investigated in Bid Night death (February)

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.

133. 134, 135), 136) 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.

137) 2003
Plattsburgh State (State University of New York)
Psi Epsilon Chi (suspended and unrecognized at time)
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.

138) 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 Allegany National Forest. Autopsy was inconclusive.

139) 2003
Plymouth State University
Sigma Kappa Omega sorority (a local that formerly was a national sorority)
Pledging-related death in car crash

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.

140) 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.

141) 2004
University of Colorado
Chi Psi

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

142) 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 incident hazing, but coroner termed death accidental.

143) 2004
San Diego State University
Delta Sigma Phi
Possible alcohol-related

Douglas DeWitt, a 21-year-old member, was found dead at the house. He died during Pledge Week, but was member, not pledge.

144) 2005
Chico State University (California)
Chi Tau (college-banned chapter)
Hazing death

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.

145) 2005
Lambda Phi Epsilon
University of California Irvine
Pledge death under investigation

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. The death is under investigation.

146) 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 ruling came January 2006.

Last update: 4/05/06

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. 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-- and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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