Frat pledge’s alcohol death leads to hazing charges for 9

TALLAHASSEE | An off-campus party where a Florida State University fraternity pledge drank a lethal dose of alcohol was overflowing in beer and liquor, strippers and more than a dozen participants getting sick from being highly intoxicated.

 

More details from the party were released Wednesday as nine members of the now-closed Pi Kappa Phi FSU chapter face felony hazing charges in the death of Andrew Coffey. He was found unresponsive and died of alcohol poisoning Nov. 3, following the party the night before.

The state medical examiner said the 20-year old Coffey had a blood alcohol level of .447 at the time of the autopsy.

Investigators, who ultimately took the case to a grand jury, said in the report that even though two fraternity members remained sober to monitor the party, no one monitored the amount of alcohol anyone was consuming or stopped those underage from drinking. Investigators added this created “an environment and expectation of drinking in excess.”

The nine members charged with “College Hazing-Cause Injury or Death” — a third-degree felony — are Luke E. Kluttz and Clayton M. Muehlstein, both 22; Brett A. Birmingham and Anthony Petagine, both 20; and Conner R. Ravelo, Christopher M. Hamlin, Anthony Oppenheimer, John B. “Jack” Ray and Kyle J. Bauer, all 21. The charge is punishable up to five years in prison.

Ravelo was Coffey’s “big brother” in the fraternity. The other eight are members of the fraternity’s executive council, which organized the party.

Three days after Coffey’s death, Florida State suspended its fraternities and sororities with no timetable on when they would be reinstated. Pi Kappa Phi’s national office has closed the FSU chapter.

Florida State University President John Thrasher said in a statement that “these arrests are the first step in seeking justice for Andrew and his loved ones, and they will inform us on where we need to place our focus as we proceed. … We hope all members and alumni of our Greek organizations are paying attention.”

State attorney Jack Campbell said he has been in contact with the Coffey family about the charges.

“The circumstances are unique. There have not been many felony hazing cases brought forth in Florida,” he said. “There was criminal conduct and we wanted to make the best decision on what to pursue.”

 

More