JUST IN: All nine Florida State University fraternity members sought in the death of pledge Andrew Coffey have turned themselves in on hazing charges. https://t.co/g7G03cf2iK pic.twitter.com/z0xTO1iwVk— WCTV Eyewitness News (@WCTV) January 17, 2018
In another heartbreaking story of Greek life hazing, nine Florida State fraternity members are facing hazing charges in relation to the death of 20-year-old pledge, Andrew Coffey.
The Tallahassee Police Department emailed out a release stating that the men will be charged with "College Hazing-Cause Injury or Death" and arrest warrants were signed on Tuesday for Luke E. Kluttz and Clayton M. Muehlstein, age 22; Conner R. Ravelo, Christopher M. Hamlin, Anthony Oppenheimer, John B. Ray and Kyle J. Bauer, age 21; and Brett A. Birmingham and Anthony Petagine, age 20.
Coffey, who was a junior pledging with Pi Kappa Phi, died of alcohol poisoning on Nov. 3, 2017. He had been found unresponsive at the fraternity's "Big Brother Night" party the night before his death.
The party's purpose was to introduce pledges to their big brother and was held at an off-campus home. Coffey was given a bottle of bourbon, which he drank. Following this, he passed out but was described as "snoring loudly" on a living room couch.
The following morning, another pledge tried to wake Coffey and discovered that he didn't have a pulse. Instead of immediately dialing 911, the pledge called and texted five fraternity members before finally contacting emergency services. Coffey was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead.
The state examiner later disclosed that Coffey had a blood alcohol level of .447 at the time the autopsy was done.
A Leon County grand jury has stated that enough evidence was present for criminal charges, although the investigation was incomplete. It ultimately left the decision regarding the charges to either the state attorney's office or a future grand jury.
The jury has heard from 38 fellow pledges and found that there appeared to be elements of obstructionism surrounding the case due to the lack of substance in testimony, the pledges demeanor, and overall attitude.
The jury also found that although Coffey's drinking was not physically forced upon him, an environment of hazing and heavy binge drinking existed among the fraternity and the party at which Coffey died, which led to his death.
Tallahassee Police announce that 9 people have been charged in connection to the death of FSU student Andrew Coffey. Coffey died at an off-campus party, prompting FSU to suspend all Greek life activities— Gary Fineout (@fineout) January 17, 2018
Pi Kappa Phi has closed the FSU chapter in response to the incident. Florida State has since suspended both its fraternities and sororities. No timetable has been given on when they would be reinstated.
This is not the first time a college student has died, much too young, due to binge drinking enforced by a fraternity, nor will it be the last. The rules and regulations that are in place now are clearly not doing the job and something must change to insure that students are protected from these dangerous hazing rituals.