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Men Charged In Fraternity Hazing Death Of Pledge Whose Blood-Alcohol Level Was 6 Times The Legal Limit

At one point in the night, Andrew Coffey had a blood-alcohol level of .558.

By Sowmya Krishnamurthy

Nine men have been charged in the hazing death of a Florida State University student. According to CNN, the nine are affiliated with the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, the organization that hosted the off-campus party where 20-year-old pledge Andrew Coffey died.

The men — Luke Kluttz, 22, Clayton M. Muehlstein, 22, Brett Birmingham, 20, Conner Ravelo, 21, Christopher Hamlin, 20, Anthony Petagine, 21, Anthony Oppenheimer, 21, John Ray, 21, and Kyle Bauer, 21 — have not been officially arrested. It is unclear if they have made official statements at this time.

On November 2, Coffey attended a party in Tallahassee called "Big Brother Night" at the frat house. The next day, he was found unresponsive without a pulse. Another Pi Kappa Phi pledge found him, and instead of reaching out to authorities, he reportedly texted five fraternity brothers. No one called the police for 11 minutes, according to court records. He was given medical treatment, but died on the scene.

At the time of his death, Coffey was a junior at the university and studying civil engineering.

Those in question are charged with college hazing causing injury or death, reported CNN. According to authorities, there is probable cause against the men in connection to the binge drinking incident.

A police statement said"Investigators intensely employed hours of investigative research, combed through several pieces of physical evidence, and conducted dozens of interviews with the assistance of the Florida State University Police Department."

According to what was presented to the grand jury last month, the frat brothers and pledges were allegedly more concerned about protecting each other than saving Coffey. 

"The brothers, pledges, and (fraternity) officers were more concerned about getting in trouble than they were about trying to save Coffey's life," the grand jury said. It said the brothers handled the aftermath of the incident with an "overall glib attitude [...] towards this very serious matter," and underscored the fraternity's "culture of secrecy."

It added, "They presented many of the same answers as each other and volunteered much self-serving information without being asked."

Coffey died of acute alcohol poisoning. According to an autopsy, his blood-alcohol level was .558 at one point, which is six times the legal limit to drive. At the time, Pi Kappa Phi was under a liquor ban, which meant it could serve only beer and wine. Someone reportedly gave Coffey high-proof bourbon and informed the pledges that the ban was lifted for the party. Although no one was expressly "forced" to drink, prosecutors say it was made clear that pledges were expected to do so to be accepted.

FSU's President John Thrasher shared that the college has been indefinitely suspended Greek organizations in light of the death. 

“For this suspension to end, there will need to be a new normal for Greek life at the university," he said in a press release.

[Photo: Florida State University]

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