Louisiana State University student Maxwell Gruver was being initiated into the Phi Delta Theta fraternity on the last night of his life.
A witness reportedly told authorities the 18-year-old was “highly intoxicated” when members of the fraternity placed him on the couch in the early morning hours of September 14 and left. When they returned to find Gruver on the couch at about 11 am with a weak pulse, two members of the fraternity drove him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Here’s what you need to know about the incident and Maxwell Gruver:
1. 10 Current and Former LSU Students Have Formally Been Charged with Hazing & 1 Was Charged with Negligent Homicide
Eight current LSU students were formally charged with hazing, according to arrest warrants released Wednesday and obtained by NBC News. Two others men were also arrested– Patrick Forde, 20, and Sean Paul Gott, 21.
Matthew Alexander Naquin, 19, of Boerne, Texas, was charged with negligent homicide. One of the pledges identified in the warrant reportedly “stated he could hear Gruver messing up the Greek alphabet and Naquin tell him to drink.”
The arrests come nearly one month after Gruver’s death.
2. Gruver Had a Blood Alcohol Level of .495 at the Time of His Death
Gruver’s blood-alcohol level was .495– more than six times the legal driving limit– at the time of his death, according to NBC News.
The hazing charges against the suspects carry sentences anywhere from 10 to 30 days in jail and mandatory expulsion from the school, according to CBS.
3. Gruver Was Pronounced Dead upon Arriving at the Hospital
East Baton Rouge Coroner William Clark told news outlets that Gruver was transported from the Phi Delta Theta fraternity house at LSU to a hospital for a “medical emergency”. He was pronounced dead upon arrival.
According to NBC, police initially treated the investigation as a “potential hazing incident.”
In the days following Gruver’s death, the outlet reports LSU President F. King Alexander as saying, “The death of Maxwell Gruver was tragic and untimely. A young man’s life was cut short last night, and we mourn his loss and the impact he would have made on the world. Our deepest sympathies and prayers go to his family and friends.”
All Greek activities were halted in the wake of Gruver’s death.
4. Gruver Was Forced to Drink Excessively During a Drinking Ritual Called ‘Bible Study’
Witnesses told authorities that the excessive drinking took place during an initiation ritual called ‘Bible Study’. Pledges were forced to drink if they incorrectly answered questions about the fraternity, according to police warrants filed by the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office and obtained by CBS.
Gruver and his fellow pledge members arrived at the fraternity house around 9:30pm on September 13, and their cellphones were confiscated.
According to CBS, the pledges were ordered upstairs as members of the fraternity threw hot sauce and mustard at them. They then placed their noses and toes against a wall and were forced to answer questions. If they answered incorrectly, they were ordered to take “pulls” of Diesel liquor. The warrant also states the pledges were forced to do “wall sits” and “planks”.
One witness told authorities he believed Naquin and Gott– who pledges agree were namely responsible for the hazing— targeted Gruver because he was often late for events.
Another pledge said Gruver took at least 10-12 swigs of Diesel, while most pledges took three to four at most.
5. Gruver’s Death Is One in a String of Hazing-Related Deaths in the Last Few Years
Unfortunately, Gruver’s death is not the only hazing-related death to have taken place in recent years.
On February 4, Penn State student Tim Piazza died as the result of a hazing incident two days prior at the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house.
That same month, UPenn student Brady DiStefano was charged with criminal homicide for allegedly choking his fraternity brother, 20-year-old Caleb Zwieg, to death.