The grand jury recently recommended criminal charges against members of the Florida State University (FSU) fraternity, stating that hazing, alcohol abuse and reckless behavior of fraternity members led to the untimely death of Andrew Coffey (20), who was found dead following a party for fraternity pledges and their big brothers on Nov. 3, 2017. The recommendations were presented in a 16-page Leon County grand jury presentment released on Dec. 19, 2017.
According to the document, on the morning after the party, when Coffey’s fraternity brothers did not find his pulse, they did not immediately call 911. Instead, they called and texted five other members of the fraternity causing an 11-minute delay in getting help. Instead of saving the life of their fraternity brother, they were more concerned about avoiding trouble. Citing the incident, the jury recommended incriminating criminal charges against the FSU fraternity members.
While Coffey lay unconscious, others continued to drink, party and play pool
The presentment stated that Coffey, a pledge at Pi Kappa Phi, drank a bottle of Wild Turkey 101 bourbon till he passed out. Post his blackout, the fraternity members moved his unconscious body to a couch and a number of them continued drinking, partying and playing pool, ignorant to his approaching death.
The autopsy results revealed that Coffey died of acute alcohol poisoning with a blood alcohol level of 0.447, more than five times the legal driving limit. On testing other bodily fluids, it was found that at the time of his death, Coffey’s peak blood alcohol level was 0.558, nearly seven times the legal limit to drive.
The court documents also included a letter from Coffey’s parents, stating that more than 80 people, including two hired strippers, were at the off-campus party.
Alcohol abuse at fraternity alarming
Speaking critically of the FSU fraternity members and the events that surrounded Coffey’s death, the presentment found alcohol abuse at Pi Kappa Phi “alarming”. The jury accused the members of recklessness and lack of integrity in handling the situation. According to them, the fraternity pledges were actively encouraged to drink excessively.
In an attempt to help FSU address issues with Greek life, hazing and much more, the grand jury also laid out seven recommendations including the creation of committees like law enforcement, University administrators and Greek life, and to conduct refresher training courses on hazing and binge drinking.
As part of the ongoing investigations, four brothers and 38 pledges were summoned to the grand jury hearing. In addition to the death of a fraternity member, 20-year-old Garrett John Marcy, a member of the Phi Delta Theta was also arrested for sale and trafficking of cocaine. Following the incidents, the FSU suspended its 28 fraternities and 26 sororities indefinitely. As per the University announcement, the ban was imposed to “review and reflect on the loss of a young life.”
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