Stone Foltz, 20, did what countless students have done many times throughout their collegiate career: attended a fraternity party in the hopes that he would soon become a member, accepted by his fraternity brothers, or "bigs." But three days later, on March 7, Foltz died in a nearby hospital. The cause? A fatal level of alcohol consumed during a hazing incident.
Now, eight current and former students of Bowling Green State University and members of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity have been charged with various felony and misdemeanor crimes, including felony involuntary manslaughter, misdemeanor hazing, tampering with evidence, and reckless homicide, according to a report from CBS News.
"Bowling Green State University is appreciative of the hard work and diligence done by the prosecutor and a grand jury to seek justice and hold those accountable in the tragic death of student Stone Foltz," the school said in a statement.
According to Wood County prosecuting attorney Paul Dobson, who spoke during a press conference on Thursday, Foltz attended an off-campus fraternity party on March 4. The party was meant to be part of a "process to initiate new members who would be introduced to their fraternity big brothers." It was there that the new members, most of whom were underage, according to CBS, were given a bottle of alcohol and told they must consume all of it — approximately 750 milliliters. Dobson says Foltz drank nearly all of the bottle, then was taken home by several fraternity members, including his assigned "big," Jacob Krinn.
The members left Foltz alone until his roommate found him. His roommate called first responders and started to perform CPR prior to their arrival. Foltz was transported to the nearest hospital, where he died three days later.
"Obviously, I want this to be the only and last time that this type of case is prosecuted in Wood County," Dobson said during Thursday's press conference. "And please, God, let it be the last time that it's prosecuted in the United States."
The latest tragic hazing incident is far from the first to occur on college campuses across the country. According to a 2008 national study, 73% of students involved or hoping to be involved in fraternities and sororities "experienced behaviors meeting the definition of hazing in order to join or maintain membership." The most common type of hazing, according to the same study, is participating in drinking games or binge drinking.
Krinn, who took Foltz home and left him alone, is the only student or former student to be charged with first-degree manslaughter as he was "more directly involved in the incident." He is also charged with felony assault. If found guilty, Krinn faces upwards of 19 years in prison for both crimes. The seven additional defendants face a slew of charges, ranging from third-degree felony manslaughter to obstructing justice, all of which carry a maximum of three years in prison. Currently, none of the eight defendants have been detained but have, instead, received a summons to appear in court on May 19.
"We are living every parent's worst nightmare and will not be at peace until fraternity hazing is seen for what it truly is — abuse," Foltz's family said in a statement to CBS Ohio affiliate WTOL. "It's unacceptable, and in Stone's case, it was fatal. How many injuries and deaths will it take for people in positions of power to do the right thing?"