Hazing News

Sad death of a live-in guest at Sigma Pi. Members try to revive Kurt Baker but fail.

Thank you to David for the linked update.

Resident of Sigma Pi dies
Mesa College student was drinking alcohol on night of his death
Wendy Fry, Staff Writer
Issue date: 2/27/08 Section: City

Sigma Pi members tried to revive 22-year-old Kurt Baker after he was found unconscious at their house early Sunday morning.
Media Credit: Glenn Connelly / Photo Editor
Sigma Pi members tried to revive 22-year-old Kurt Baker after he was found unconscious at their house early Sunday morning.

A San Diego Mesa College student died Sunday night at the Sigma Pi fraternity house on College Avenue.
Kurt Baker, 22, lived with members of the Sigma Pi fraternity at San Diego State in the chapter’s house.
Eitan Zimmerman, president of Sigma Pi, said everything seemed normal when Baker went to bed at about 2 a.m. on Sunday.
“He had been drinking a little bit, but not excessively,” he said.
Zimmerman said that when he discovered Baker in his room later that morning, he had blood and black liquid coming out of his face and did not have a pulse.
He and another fraternity member, Brett Bannon, attempted to resuscitate Baker by performing CPR as paramedics instructed them over the phone.
“It was the most foul thing I’ve ever seen, because while I was performing the CPR all the blood and liquid would fill up in my mouth,” Zimmerman said. “I was throwing up in between breaths.”
Baker was transported to Alvarado Hospital, where he died at 8:12 p.m.
The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office has not yet released what Baker’s blood alcohol level was at the time he was admitted to the hospital. According to medical examiner investigator Jennifer Thompson, the cause of death is still pending.
“We are currently running toxicology reports, and those investigations can take up to 90 days,” Thompson said.
Zimmerman said that Baker moved to San Diego from Northern California three years ago.
“He moved into the house because we had extra room and he is friends with everyone in the fraternity,” Zimmerman said.
University Police Lt. Lamine Secka said that sometimes students from Mesa College or Grossmont College who are planning to transfer to SDSU are admitted to fraternity or sorority chapters. Doug Case, coordinator of fraternity and sorority life, said that non-students sometimes join despite university policy.
“We are monitoring the situation and we’re waiting for the police to complete their investigation,” Case said.
Zimmerman said that although Baker’s place in the fraternity was not official, he considered him to be as close to the fraternity as any member.
“He was one of my best friends,” Zimmerman said. “At this point, he is as much my brother as anyone else in the world.
“We all miss him. I’m going to miss him for the rest of my life.”

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

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