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ATHENS, Ohio — The family of an Ohio teen who died at an Ohio University fraternity house has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Sigma Pi, WBNS reported.
Collin Wiant, 18, of Dublin, Ohio, died last November after someone called police reporting that he was unresponsive in the fraternity house.
According to WBNS, the lawsuit alleges that during the pledging process, Wiant was subjected to physical, verbal, and mental abuse along with sleep deprivation, and forced drug and alcohol use.
WSYX reported the lawsuit claims that Wiant was forced to drink a gallon of alcohol in an hour and take a toxic mix of drugs including cocaine, Adderall, Xanax and nitrous oxide.
According to WSYX, Wiant and other pledges endured two months of hazing that included being beaten with a belt, being pelted with eggs, and being deprived of sleep.
“He was summoned around midnight. He confided among friends that he was about to be hazed. He gets to that house at a little after 2 a.m., and by 2:50, he was dead,” attorney Rex Elliott told WBNS.
According to the lawsuit, which was published by WCMH, on the morning Wiant died, a witness saw him just before he went to the fraternity house and he was “acting completely fine.”
His body was found surrounded by “drug paraphernalia, including cannisters of nitrous oxide.”
Elliott, who represents Wiant’s family, believes there was an attempt to cover up the death when members found Wiant unresponsive, WBNS reported. He said the pledges were immediately initiated and told to make up a story.
“They did it in an effort to close the ranks to that. They had a consistent story. It frankly sickens me that their first response was to get the story straight rather than provide assistance to Collin,” Elliott says.
Signa Pi National Fraterntiy provided the following statement to WBNS:
“We are aware of the tragic passing of Collin Wiant this past November and we continue to extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends. To my knowledge, Sigma Pi International has not been served with a lawsuit involving Mr. Wiant, so we are not able to comment. If we are served with a lawsuit, our attorneys will review and determine the appropriate response.”
One day after Wiant’s death, Ohio University issued a cease and desist letter to the Epsilon Chapter of Sigma Pi.
The school is not named in the lawsuit, but Elliott told WSYX colleges and universities need to do more to crackdown on hazing.
“We don’t have any information to suggest now that OU was aware of the kinds of things that were going on with this fraternity to the degree that we would need to in order to go after OU,” Elliott said. “But 100% universities – including Ohio University – have an absolute obligation to keep organizations like this in control so young kids aren’t hurt.”
The school issued the following statement to WSYX:
“This is a very sad situation, and our hearts go out to Collin’s family and friends who have been impacted by this tragic loss. The Epsilon chapter of the Sigma Pi fraternity remains on a cease and desist order from the University, pending investigation.”