If an Alcohol or Hazing Death Occurs: A Parentâ€™s Guide
by Hank Nuwer
No parent can imagine losing a son or daughter because of an initiation done by members of your childâ€™s club, team or other group.
Griefstricken and numb, you go ahead on automatic pilot. Consequently, many parents have made bad decisions with their childâ€™s body that they later regret. Or they’ve expected a college, school administrator, coach, music director, regional fraternity alumni, or national fraternity/sorority to do the right thing and were let down. Or time passed and a cover-up ensued.
These are the minimum things you need to do if the worst happens.
1) Insist that police investigate and save all party paraphernalia as evidence if needed.
2) Get the time and place of the post-mortem exam and be represented by counsel and a doctor there.
3) Have your attorney learn all that he or she can about any inquest that gets scheduled. Be sure your attorney questions witnesses at that inquest.
4) You have the right to see your childâ€™s body before he or she gets shipped to a mortuary.
5) Insist on the right for a private post mortem if a coronerâ€™s (or pathologistâ€™s) credentials seem very unimpressive or if you do not concur with the findings.
6) Be sure to order the post mortem report.
7) If it occurs at school, demand to know if there will be a judicial hearing.
8) If the school has not contacted police, do so yourself. Campus police may investigate, but they lack the resources and (usually) experience of state police.
9) Ask the vice president for student affairs for any disciplinary reports available regarding the group your son or daughter tried to join.
10) Ask the coroner and pathologist which records are public record and which medical records may be kept private.
11) Search your childâ€™s belongings for such evidence of abuse as pledge books, bloody clothing (from beatings, paddline, caning), illegal substances.