(Reuters) - Ten men have been charged in the death of a Louisiana State University fraternity pledge who had more than six times the legal blood alcohol limit after a night of suspected booze-fueled hazing, officials said on Wednesday.
Matthew Naquin, a 19-year-old student from Texas, faces the most serious charge of negligent homicide in the death of Maxwell Gruver, the university said in a statement. The 18-year-old freshman from Roswell, Georgia, died last month after a drinking bout at the Phi Delta Theta house.
Naquin and the nine others are charged with hazing, a misdemeanor.
Eight of the 10 charged were enrolled at Louisiana State, school spokesman Ernie Ballard said. John McLindon, Naquin’s lawyer, declined to comment.
Gruver’s death has brought renewed focus to drinking and sometimes-fatal hazing at college fraternities. In one high-profile case, 16 Pennsylvania State University students face charges in the death of a prospective member after a drinking game.
A report by LSU campus police said Gruver was pronounced dead at a Baton Rouge hospital after being taken there in a private vehicle following a night of drinking at the fraternity.
Citing a police search warrant, the Advocate newspaper reported that as part of a so-called “Bible Study” gathering, Gruver and other prospective members were asked questions about the fraternity and forced to drink if they answered incorrectly.
Gruver had a blood alcohol level of 0.495, more than six times Louisiana’s limit for drunk driving, the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner William Clark said in a statement.
Clark gave the cause of death as “acute alcohol intoxication with aspiration,” or the inhaling of food particles or fluids into the lungs.
School President F. King Alexander, who has launched a review of fraternity and sorority policies and behavior, said in a statement: “Today’s arrests underscore that the ramifications of hazing can be devastating.”
Phi Delta Theta’s national organization has shuttered the Louisiana State chapter and stripped those charged of fraternity membership.
Fraternities and sororities are social clubs at many U.S. colleges and often have their own housing.
Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by David Gregorio and Lisa Shumaker