At universities and colleges across the country, each fall season brings a fresh crop of bright-eyed freshmen hoping to pledge their way into fraternities. Getting into the Greek spirit can be fun, but at what cost? Plenty of these rites of passages (perhaps more appropriately called wrongs of passage), have landed these guys in hospitals and worse. Here is the breakdown of the most horrifying frat fatalities and injuries:
Fatalities and Injuries
- Up in Flames
- 15 Shots of Brandy Too Many
- Frat Boy Rumble
- Chi Tau Waterworks Stunt Goes Bad
- Even in Utah
- Oven Cleaner?
- Spilled Milk
Up in Flames
May 12, 1996: University of North Carolina’s Phi Gamma Delta house went up in smoke after an all night graduation party, killing five and injuring three others. Authorities say the fire was started by “improper use of smoking materials.” What does that mean exactly?
15 Shots of Brandy Too Many
January 1994: A 19-year-old Phi University of Nebraska-Lincoln pledge fell off the third floor of the Phi Gamma Delta house after he had been given 15 shots of brandy and whiskey and six cans of beer.
Frat Boy Rumble
January 16, 2005: At Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio student Brent Jones, age 21, died from a fractured skull and enlarged brain caused from hitting a door frame in an altercation with a fellow Sigma Phi Epsilon brother.
Chi Tau Waterworks Stunt Goes Bad
Feb 2, 2005: Matthew Carrington, 21, lost his life to a hazing incident involving the consumption of massive quantities of a normally safe substance: water. The incident occurred at California State University in Chico, CA. Carrington was a Chi Tau Fraternity pledge. The ritual included forcing the pledges to drink five gallons of water, pouring ice water on them and then making them stand in front of air conditioning fans, and doing push-ups while answering trivia questions about the fraternity.
Even in Utah
November 2008: Utah State University, nestled in the beautiful mountains of Logan, Utah is not immune from binge drinking fatalities. 12 members of the Sigma Nu fraternity were charged in connection with the death of Micheal Starks. Starks died after imbibing a lethal amount of alcohol at only 18 years old.
University of Delaware student Jeffery V. Furek suffered severe burns on his neck and head when caustic oven cleaner was poured over his scalp in a 1980 hazing rite. In 1987 he pressed charges against the university and frat member Joseph Donchez and Furek was awarded $30,000.
Commuters on a Arizona freeway got quite the unexpected surprise on September 22, 2008. A group of Arizona State University Arizona State fraternity pledges were challenged to drink a gallon of milk in an hour and needless to say they lost. They lost it all over the freeway if you want to get into semantics. They vomited off the side of a footbridge into the traffic below and caused an accident. A passing motorist slammed on the brakes to avoid the upchuck, causing a woman following behind to rear end the stopped car. Luckily only the pledges prides was injured.
2.1 million: The amount of money in damages caused by frat house fires each year in the US. (National Fire Incident Reporting System) (NFIRS)
150: The number of estimated fires occurring in fraternity and sorority houses each year in the US. (NFIRS)
90: The percent of Fraternity members that reported drinking alcohol within the past 30 days, compared to 65 percent of other students, according to a North Carolina University study.
1: Number of reported fraternity house pet deaths. The Tau Kappa Epsilon house of University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, lost their beloved house dog, Axel, in an arson fire.
1: Estimated number of deaths caused by hazing each year since 1979, according to Hank Nuwer, author of Broken Pledges.
These stories and statistics are alarming to say the least and we learn that although students might be able to get into Ivy League schools, they might not be able to avoid blatantly stupid decisions when challenged by the herd mentality. Online Classes anyone? When you earn your degree online nobody is going to force you to drink ridiculous amounts of water and your chances of dying in a house fire are significantly reduced. Think about it.