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Parents of fraternity pledge who died in hazing demand change

A Florida State University student’s parent are fighting for a new federal anti-hazing law after their son died in an alleged hazing ritual while a room full of people ‘just didn’t care.’

Tom and Sandra Coffey sat down with CBS News’ Tony Dokoupil to discuss their son’s passing last year while he was allegedly being hazed for Pi Kappa Phi fraternity.

‘Andrew died in a room full of people that just didn’t care. And he died alone,’ Tom Coffey said about his son, Andrew Coffey.

Andrew, a junior, was found unresponsive at the frat house in November. He had died from alcohol poisoning after drinking an entire bottle of 101-proof bourbon, according to a lawsuit filed.

Tom and Sandra Coffey sat down with CBS News’ Tony Dokoupil to discuss their son’s passing last year at Florida State University

Andrew Coffey, 20, died in November after drinking an entire bottle of 101-proof bourbon allegedly for a hazing ritual at Pi Kappa Phi fraternity

Andrew Coffey, 20, died in November after drinking an entire bottle of 101-proof bourbon allegedly for a hazing ritual at Pi Kappa Phi fraternity

Andrew Coffey, 20, died in November after drinking an entire bottle of 101-proof bourbon allegedly for a hazing ritual at Pi Kappa Phi fraternity

‘If people in the past had gotten together, maybe my son would still be here, if hazing wasn’t a problem. So therefore, we have to yell as loud as we can in order to get this stopped,’ father Tom Coffey said ‘CBS This Morning.’ 

‘I don’t want another family going through what we go through. Crying ourselves to sleep.’

Nine students in the fraternity have pleaded not guilty to hazing charges.

Nine students in the fraternity have pleaded not guilty to hazing charges

Nine students in the fraternity have pleaded not guilty to hazing charges

Since 1961, one person has died each year from hazing, CBS News reports. Andrew – who was 20 at the time – is the fourth in 2017. 

Andrew’s family hopes to lead a movement against hazing and their lawsuit seeks justice and accountability for what happened.   

‘When you send your child away, it’s the last thing you’re thinking of. Never even crosses your mind,’ Tom said. 

‘It’s getting him into his dorm, getting his classes lined up. Getting, you know … This never crossed my mind.’

Sandra added: ‘I remember driving, going, ‘This doesn’t happen to us.’

According to Andrew's father, 'There were estimated 100 people at that party'

According to Andrew’s father, ‘There were estimated 100 people at that party’

The 20-year-old had had dreams of joining the Navy after school and had been an athlete in high school.  

‘Great kid,’ Sandra said. ‘You could count on him.’

‘Handsome as the day is long and a smile that’ll light up a room, you know,’ Tom described.

The student had been adamant on joining Pi Kappa Phi, even before enrolling at the university. 

‘His friends belonged and he’d joined with them at some of the fraternity functions and everything else and wanted to belong,’ Tom added. 

'And 99 of them didn't help my son. ... Andrew died in a room full of people that just didn't care. And he died alone,' his father added

‘And 99 of them didn’t help my son. … Andrew died in a room full of people that just didn’t care. And he died alone,’ his father added

‘We just said … grades suffer because of partying or something like that, then, you know, you’re out. And he agreed to that,’ Tom said. 

In their lawsuit, the Coffeys claim that the fraternity ‘had been hazing and having pledges abuse alcohol for years.’ When he died, Andrew had been taking part in what is known as ‘the family bottle’ ritual. 

But local authorities weren’t called until the next morning.  

‘His lips are purple, his body is extremely stiff and… I can’t wake him up and I honestly don’t feel a pulse,’ the person calling the 911 dispatcher said. 

Sandra still doesn’t understand why the fraternity waited so long to act, adding that it ‘wakes us up in the middle of the night.’

According to Andrew’s father, ‘There were estimated 100 people at that party.’

‘And 99 of them didn’t help my son. … Andrew died in a room full of people that just didn’t care. And he died alone,’ he added.

The family’s lawyer, David Bianchi, was crucial in passing a Florida law in 2005 that made hazing a felony. It also denied defendants the chance to claim that hazing happened willingly. 

Sandra still doesn't understand why the fraternity waited so long to act, adding that it 'wakes us up in the middle of the night'

Sandra still doesn’t understand why the fraternity waited so long to act, adding that it ‘wakes us up in the middle of the night’

‘Hazing is the byproduct of peer pressure, and peer pressure gets really good young people to do things that they would otherwise never do,’ Bianchi said. 

‘You know, every morning I see his picture, I’ll talk to him about it. Sayin’, ‘They’re still workin’ on it.’ So I pray,’ said Carol Meredith, mother to Chad Meredith – the hazing victim from the 2005 case.

Carol and Gerry MeredithFcare have joined the Coffeys in forming PUSH, Parents United to Stop Hazing. 

Also included is the Piazza family, who lost their son – Tim – last winter at Penn State.

 Andrew's family hopes to lead a movement against hazing and their lawsuit seeks justice and accountability for what happened

 Andrew’s family hopes to lead a movement against hazing and their lawsuit seeks justice and accountability for what happened

‘A federal statute has to be written that goes from the top, you know, where the national fraternity is at risk, as well as the local chapter. And then education to high school students,’ Tom Coffey explained, adding that ‘accountability and education’ were vital for breaking the cycle of hazing. 

FSU temporarily banned Greek life, following the death. But President John Thrasher still has hope that improvements can happen. 

‘I don’t want it to happen again on our campus, and I hope other campuses are paying attention to what we’re doing, because I think — I think we are making progress. But, I will say this: I think Greek life as we know it today has to change — has to change — in order for us to move forward with the positive things that the Greek community does,’ Thrasher said. 

 A spokesperson for Pi Kappa Phi said ‘with the pending litigation we are unable to provide comment.’ 

FSU temporarily banned Greek life, following the death. But President John Thrasher still has hope that improvements can happen

FSU temporarily banned Greek life, following the death. But President John Thrasher still has hope that improvements can happen

   

 

 

 



Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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