Four Students Dead Following Fraternity-Related “Social Events”
A student at San Diego State University has died after suffering a head injury caused by a fall from the upper tier of a bunk bed in his dormitory room, making him the fourth fraternity-related death in less than a month.
According to press reports, on the morning of November 7th 19-year-old Dylan Hernandez was found unconscious in his bed in a dormitory located on the campus of San Diego State University. Although the investigation into the circumstances surrounding Hernandez’s death is currently ongoing, initial reports indicate that he had attended a fraternity social event the previous evening. After returning to his dorm room, he apparently fell from his bed and struck his head on the floor. His roommates, apparently sensing that Hernandez was uninjured, merely returned him to his bead where he was found unconscious and in respiratory distress the following morning. Hernandez died the next day, November 8th.
Citing an “ongoing investigation,” the school has released little information regarding Hernandez’s activities the evening prior to his fall. However, local media sources have reported that he had attended a “social event” sponsored by an unnamed San Diego State fraternity the previous evening. While an official cause of death has not been announced, the same media sources are reporting that San Diego State has formed “… two task forces on substance misuse and student safety.” At the time of Hernandez’s death, San Diego State had previously suspended six “Greek Life” organizations for misconduct issues and was in the process of investigating at least three others over similar complaints.
Hernandez’s death is the fourth fraternity-related accidental death to have occurred in less than a month.
On the morning of October 26th, 17-year-old John "Jack" Schoenig was found dead at an off-campus residence reported to have been occupied by members of the Penn State chapter of the Chi Phi fraternity. According to the school and the local Chi Phi chapter, Schoenig was not enrolled at Penn State nor was he a member of Chi Phi. An early investigation into the circumstances of Schoenig’s death suggests that alcohol may have been a contributing factor.
The body of 18-year-old Cornell University freshman Antonio Tsialas was discovered at the bottom of Fall Creek Gorge on October 26th after a search instituted when he failed to keep a lunch date with his mother the previous afternoon. Tsialas was last seen at around 9:30 on the evening of October 24th after he had attended a party at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house.
In an unrelated incident, on November 13th Omaha’s KETV-TV reported that an unnamed student at Creighton University has filed a lawsuit against “… the national Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, a Nebraska Phi Kappa Psi foundation and an alumni group and some former fraternity officers in the Creighton chapter” after her throat was slashed by a fraternity member who had consumed alcohol and marijuana as part of a fraternity hazing ritual in 2017.
In the lawsuit the plaintiff, who is not identified, alleges that she was injured when she was attacked in her dorm room by Christopher Wheeler. According to the lawsuit, Phi Kappa Psi had been placed on “social probation” the previous year after an investigation revealed alcohol and drug use during a previous fraternity member initiation and "… had Phi Psi and the National Fraternity acted reasonably to address the ongoing hazing, excessive drinking, underage drinking and other misconduct at Phi Psi, (the victim) would not have been violently attacked."
On Tuesday, November 12th, 19-year-old Sam Martinez was found dead at the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house of Washington State University. According to WSU, Martinez’s death appears to have been alcohol-related and a complete investigation into the circumstances of his death is being pursued by local law enforcement agencies.
At The Doan Law Firm, we will be monitoring future developments in these tragic deaths and will post updates as more information becomes publicly available.