Hazing News

Hazing Statistics: Updated List of Hazing Deaths 2000 to 2009

Handouts: Copyright Hank Nuwer,

Agenda: Hazing Trends
1) Introduction
2) The Hank Nuwer Hazing Collection is ready for scholars and students.

U.S. Hazing Deaths

3) Trends in fraternity and sorority hazing
4) Trends in high school athletic hazing
5) Hazing deaths and serious incidents internationally
6) Serious changes to hazing law s statewide and policies

HazingPrevention.Org Blog: News Results for Hazing & Views by Hank Nuwer: Tracking Hazing Deaths, Incidents, Trials in Greek Groups, Athletics, High Schools, Military, and on the Job

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, 2010).

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

See for previous 118 deaths

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.

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.

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.

Tennessee State University
Omega Psi Phi
Pledging death

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

University of Colorado
Chi Psi

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

University of Texas
Sigma Alpha Epsilon
Police said hazing may have been a factor in the death of pledge Tyler Cross who died in a fall while under the influence of alcohol.

Rider University
Phi Kappa Tau
Hazing (word hazing to the left accidentally omitted in first version. Corrected 2/3/08 by Julie Devercelly)

Gary Devercelly Jr. died of alcohol poisoning during a hazing incident at Rider University. He was a baseball player from California prior to coming to Rider.

University of Delaware
Sigma Alpha Mu
Hazing Death

Brett Griffin, 18, of Kendall Park, N.J died in Newark, DE. The Delta Lambda chapter of Sigma Alpha Mu has been charged with midemeanor hazing by the Delaware Attorney General’s office, the Associated Press reported.
Newark Police have charged University of Delaware students, all members or pledges of Sigma Alpha Mu, had already been charged as individuals by Newark police with alcohol and drug offenses stemming from the investigation of the death of Brett Griffin. However, police emphasized the individuals have no links to the death of Griffin. Griffin, died at a party in November. The fraternity is already being sued by Griffin’s family.

Wabash College
Delta Tau Delta
Family member blames death on hazing

The attorney for the family of 18-year-old Johnny D. Smith of Tucson, Arizona who died of alcohol poisoning took the unusual step of calling a press conference calling for investigation of possible hazing. Smith’s grandmother, Monya Ballah, Tucson, wrote that her grandson told her pledges were being pressured to drink alcohol in an e-mail to The Indianapolis Star.

Lenoir Rhyne
Theta Chi
Hazing denied by school but events fit Theta Chi definition of hazing

Police complained that university officials waited two days before asking them to investigate the death of Harrison Kowiak, 18, in what has been called a physical initiation game. The death has not officially been ruled hazing, but the father of Kowiak said the event certainly met the definition of hazing.
Earlier in the year the Lenoir-Rhyne women’s soccer team was videotaped in a hazing incident involving alcohol.

Utah State
Sigma Nu (with Chi Omega participation)
Hazing (alcohol given to male pledges by sorority members)

The death of Michael Starks is sending several fraternity and sorority members to jail in 2009.
Chi Omega and Sigma Nu were suspended following the death.

Cal Poly
Sigma Alpha Epsilon

The death of pledge Carson Starkey, 18, on December 2, 2008 of alcohol poisoning has resulted in charges against members.

SUNY Geneseo
Pigs Drinking Club (sub-rosa organization)

Arman Partamian, a recent Eagle Scout, died from an alcohol overdose.

Information courtesy of Hank Nuwer
Web Page:
Twitter Handle: Hazing
Hazing Books by Hank Nuwer: Wrongs of passage; The Hazing Reader
Biographical: One Long Wild Conversation (available online through Barnes and Noble). Co-written with Fraser Drew, oldest living member in Hank’s fraternity.