Hazing News

Sigma Pi death said to not be hazing-related: WMBD Media

Here is an excerpt

BLOOMINGTON – A candlelight vigil is planned for 18-year-old Brandon Landau of Bronx, New York.

He was an Illinois Wesleyan University freshmen who died over the weekend after a fraternity party in northern Illinois.

University spokesman Matt Kurz told WMBD 31 Wednesday morning students are holding the vigil at 10 p.m. Wednesday on campus near Buck Memorial Library.

Meanwhile, Winnebago County Coroner Elizabeth “Sue” Fiduccia updated WMBD 31 Wednesday with new information about Landau’s death.

She said possible causes of death have been narrowed down to drowning, alcohol intoxication, hypothermia or an unknown underlying condition like a genetic heart problem.

Fiduccia said her office is not considering the possibility of a drug overdose.  However, she said the toxicology results she’s waiting for will show if Landau had any prescription drugs or illegal drugs in his system.

Results will also show his blood alcohol level at the time of his death.

Landau was found Sunday in a creek at White Pines State Park in Ogle County.  He was flown to a Rockford hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 12:40 p.m.

His body was found after a fraternity party thrown by the Illinois Wesleyan chapter of Sigma Pi.

Friends told authorities they last saw Landau around 2 a.m. Sunday.

His body was found in knee-deep water, Fiduccia said.  She said he was face down, with his upper body on a log and his torso in water.

She said his body was not in two pieces and sustained no trauma.  She said there were cuts and abrasions consistent with his head falling forward and hitting a log.

Fiduccia said based on information she’s received from detectives, the death is not being investigated as a hazing incident.

She said Landau had already been vetted and accepted into the fraternity.  She said the group came to northern Illinois for a spring dance and had rented cabins at the state park.

Police arrested four underage drinkers, including the fraternity’s 20-year-old president Casey Wiersma, in connection to the fraternity party.

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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