Authorities Charge 15 Fraternity Members After Student Dies Of Alcohol Poisoning

(Screenshot/Youtube/Public — User: Washington State University)

Bradley Devlin General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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After a student died from alcohol poisoning, 15 Washington State University students were charged in the death, The Associated Press (AP) reported Wednesday. 

Samuel Martinez, a 19-year-old Washington State University student and native of Bellevue, Washington, died of acute alcohol intoxication on Nov. 12, 2019, according to AP. Martinez died after attending a fraternity event where he allegedly consumed nearly a half-gallon of rum before becoming unconscious, The Seattle Times reported.

However, medics were allegedly not alerted to Martinez’s condition until 8:30 a.m. the following morning, according to The Seattle Times. The Whitman County coroner has ruled the death an accident, the AP reported, but a Whitman County prosecutor has levied criminal charges against 15 members of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity chapter at Washington State University.

The attorney, Denis P. Tracy, alleged the fraternity members supplied alcohol to Martinez and possibly other pledges at a fraternity initiation event, according to the AP.

Providing liquor to minors in Washington is a gross misdemeanor and could carry a one-year jail sentence as well as a $5,000 fine, state law stipulates. (RELATED: 105 University Of Washington Fraternity Brothers Test Positive For COVID-19)

In a Wednesday statement, Martinez’s parents said, “While the charges may lead to some level of accountability, this is not justice. It does not bring us closure,” The Seattle Times reported. Martinez’s parents also reportedly said the charges were “insulting,” according to a reporter for KIRO7.

The students were not charged with hazing because the statute of limitations on a hazing charge had expired.

The deceased student’s parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the university as well as the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity in 2020, local outlet KREM2 reported.

In an op-ed for The Seattle Times, Martinez’s mother, Jolayne Houtz, alleged her son was “hazed to death.”

“Sam was a freshman when he was hazed to death by his fraternity ‘brothers’ at Washington State University… [he was] left to die alone in the basement of the Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) house after a night of ritualistic drinking.”

In the op-ed, the mother said hazing should be a felony. 

The Alpha Tau Omega fraternity at Washington State University lost university recognition for six years and admitted to violating the university’s standards of conduct in a suspension agreement, The Seattle Times reported.

“At least 65 people, mostly young men, have died since 2000 as a result of known or suspected hazing in the Greek system,” Houtz said.

Recently, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) announced it was shutting down one of its fraternities, Delta Chi, over the death of a 19-year-old freshman who died after attending a party at Delta Chi.