Hazing is a practice that some fraternities use to “initiate” new members. However, that practice can often lead to serious injuries, and it has been declared illegal in the state of Virginia due to the dangers it can pose. The families and estates of two Virginia State University students who lost their lives in a hazing ritual have now filed wrongful death suits.
On April 20, 2013, four individuals — two members of the organization and two mentors — led a group of seven recruits to the Appomattox River and commanded the recruits to lock arms and cross the river. However, the water levels were elevated due to a recent storm, and the recruits were swept underneath the current upon entering the river. Two of the recruits could not swim, and they lost their lives in the river.
The suit alleges that an undisclosed amount of time after the incident, the four leaders as well as the five recruits who survived went to a restaurant that one of the leaders owned. One of the recruits notified the authorities after realizing that the four leaders had not yet done so. The four individuals were eventually arrested for their parts in the crime, and they are each currently serving jail sentences for hazing and involuntary manslaughter.
The families of the two students who lost their lives have filed twin wrongful death suits. The suits name Virginia State University as well as the four leaders as defendants. The families are seeking $25 million in damages. If any Virginia family has experienced the loss of a loved one due to an illegal hazing ritual, then that family may be entitled to take similar legal action.
Source: roanoke.com, “Families of Virginia State hazing death victims file $25 million lawsuits“, Mark Bowes, March 19, 2015