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Hazing News

“Take me home, Country Roads”

Theron and Kimberly Burch donated his organs.

Buffalo has had hazing deaths of Scott Krueger (MIT, Fiji) and in nearby Alfred (NY), Chuck Stenzel of Alfred University (Klan Alpine). Nolan’s death cause has yet to be determined. As I reported earlier in this blog, this WVU Kappa Sigma chapter was reactivated 2007-2008 and one of the founding brothers died young last December.

The Buffalo News has, in my opinion, the best balanced media coverage on the death of Nolan Burch at West Virginia University’s now defunct Kappa Sigma (Gamma Chapter) house. A Burch relative told the Buffalo News there had been a drinking challenge issued to Nolan and perhaps at least one individual. Local authorities report a second individual was reported ill.

Excerpt from the Buffalo News, my former hometown newspaper (for which I wrote two articles at age 16).

Toxicology reports continue.  Police will investigate if hazing was a factor or if this was unrelated to hazing. Nolan was just 17 when he began pledging. His birthday was this month. Numerous deaths on or around birthdays (usually age 21) have been occurring for many years as challengers invite the birthday celebrant to consume 18 or 21 (or more) drinks in one evening.

Excerpt from the Buffalo News (Nolan was a h.s. grad of Buffalo-based Canisius High School)

“We are investigating all aspects of this party, and I mean all aspects,” Morgantown Police Chief Edward Preston said, adding that his detectives have spoken to Burch’s family and also to people who were at the frat house when Burch collapsed unconscious to the floor.

Police said Burch was gravely ill, was unresponsive and had no pulse when officers responded to a medical emergency call at the Kappa Sigma fraternity house at 11:52 p.m. Wednesday. Police and emergency medical technicians administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation to the teen, and an ambulance rushed him to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown.

Based on conversations with Burch’s family, a family friend told The News that Burch was “challenged” by others present at the frat house into drinking large amounts of liquor at the party. Preston said he could not provide specifics on what happened at the party at this point in the investigation.

“His parents are in a situation that I wouldn’t wish on anybody,” the police chief said. “Nobody who sends their 18-year-old son or daughter off to college should ever have to deal with something like this.”

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About 24 people sang Country Roads in Nolan’s dormitory suite to honor hime

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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