8 indicted in alcohol-related death after fraternity party
Toledo, Ohio – Eight people have been indicted in the alcohol-related death of an Ohio college student who was found unconscious after a fraternity party, prosecutors said Thursday.
A grand jury indicted the eight on charges ranging from involuntary manslaughter to hazing.
Stone Foltz, 20, died three days after he and other fraternity pledges at Bowling Green State University were each given and encouraged to finish an entire bottle of alcohol at the March 4 off-campus party, university officials have said.
Foltz, a business major from Delaware, Ohio, was found unconscious by a roommate after members of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity dropped him off at his apartment, according to an attorney for Foltz’s parents. He was put on life support and died after his family arranged for his organs to be donated.
Six of those indicted were charged with involuntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison, according to Wood County Prosecutor Paul Dobson.
Other charges included reckless homicide, felonious assault, hazing, violating underage alcohol laws and obstructing official business.
The hazing and failing to comply with underage alcohol laws reflect that those charged gave copious amounts of alcohol to Foltz and the other new fraternity members, Dobson said in a statement.
The eight men indicted range in age from 19 to 23. Their relation to the fraternity wasn’t immediately clear.
Attorneys for Foltz’s family called the charges “one step in the right direction,” but said government and university leaders must do more to end hazing.
“How many injuries and deaths will it take for people in positions of power to do the right thing?” attorneys Rex Elliott and Sean Alto said in an emailed statement on behalf of the family. “We demand zero tolerance.”
The university expelled the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity in early April after charging it with violating six code of conduct rules.
A message seeking comment was left with the Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity. It had said in a statement following Foltz’s death that it has “a zero-tolerance policy” on substance abuse, bullying and hazing and would not defend or condone any dangerous behavior.
In a letter to the fraternity chapter’s president, the university said it found that new members who attended the party were blindfolded and taken into a basement while being yelled at and pushed in an attempt to disorient them.
They were then given alcohol and encouraged to drink, the letter said.
“One new member died following this event, and other new members were severely intoxicated to the point of vomiting,” wrote Jeremy Zilmer, associate dean of students.
The violations outlined by the university said the fraternity gave alcohol to underage pledges, and before the event told the pledges to let their professors know they likely would not be in class the next day.
Foltz’s death has renewed calls for Ohio lawmakers to increase criminal penalties for hazing.