Tucker Hipps, a fraternity pledge, was killed when he fell from a bridge last year. It’s alleged in a lawsuit that the student was forced to walk a narrow railing along the bridge from which he fell to his death last September. This tragic incident happened at a location near Clemson University. The student’s family filed a lawsuit over the incident. , It’s alleged in the lawsuit against Clemson University, the Sigma Phi Epsilon National Fraternity and three of the fraternity’s brothers that the testimony of a new witness will expose wrongdoing that led to the student’s death. The unnamed witness’ allegedly will say Hipps was forced to walk the narrow railing of the bridge spanning Lake Hartwell near Clemson’s campus, then fell and couldn’t hold onto the bridge’s side. This information, if true, will give some insight into how the pledge class president for the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity died while on a fraternity-sponsored early morning run.
Jimmy Watt, an Oconee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said officials who have been investigating the case already have spoken with the witness, but he would not say who it is or elaborate on what the witness said. The sheriff’s office and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division “have spoken to this individual on more than one occasion,” according to Watt. He says it’s “still an active and ongoing investigation.” Cindy Tucker Hipps, Tucker Hipps’ mother, said the person who came forward is brave for doing so.
It’s alleged in the lawsuit that three of the fraternity’s brothers, identified as Defendants Thomas King, Samuel Carney and Campbell Starr, “forced Tucker to get onto the narrow railing along the bridge and walk some distance of the bridge on top of the railing.” It’s alleged that one of the three fraternity brothers became angry at Hipps for not providing a McDonalds’ breakfast for 27 pledges during an early morning pledge run on Sept. 22, 2014. It’s alleged further that Defendant Thomas King was involved in a “confrontation” with Hipps on the bridge.
An autopsy kept secret by officials until details were released in the lawsuits concluded the student had died of “blunt force trauma” consistent with a “downward headfirst falling injury.” A toxicology report is said to have found Hipps had not been drinking or ingesting drugs. According to the lawsuit, Sigma Phi Epsilon brothers attempted to cover up their role in Hipps’ death by deleting text messages, cellphone calls and, in one instance, changing phone numbers. Clemson suspended the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity for five years, but has made little additional information available about exactly how Hipps died. It has said the run was not sanctioned by the university.
I agree with the family’s statement that the culture of hazing and inappropriate conduct by social fraternities must be stopped. Universities and fraternities must make the changes that will be required to stop hazing that is dangerous, putting students at risk of serious injury or death.
Source: Anderson Independent Mail
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