The night started when Alan (a 21 year old active) Barry and Frank (both 18 year old pledges) of the Sigma Chi Fraternity decided to take a short road trip to a neighboring university to attend a party that another Sigma Chi chapter was hosting. Alan, Barry and Frank had heard that this party was “closed” to only chapter members, pledges, and their dates, but Alan figured that since he was good friends with some of the actives at the house, it wouldn’t be any problem to attend.
Alan drove Barry and Frank in his Jeep Wrangler to the party. They arrived at approximately 10:30 p.m. and proceeded to the front door of the house. They were told by the security guards that they would not be allowed inside because their names were not on the guest list. The security guards had been told by the Chapter’s Consul to check ID’s and stamp the hands of only those people that were of legal drinking age.
Alan and the two pledges decided to go around back and sneak in through another door. They were able to enter through one that was propped open with no problem and began to mingle with everyone at the party.
Right away Alan noticed that everyone who was drinking had their hand stamped. He had been to a number of parties in the past and knew that once a person was in a party their hands were never usually checked by the bartender or anyone else. Alan decided to go up to the bartender (a licensed, insured third party vendor) for a beer and successfully proved his theory. The night progressed and Alan consumed a few beers. Soon he decided to join in with a group of people who were playing a drinking game. The game involved taking shots of Wild Turkey, which someone else had secretly brought to the party.
Even though Alan and the pledges were having fun, it was getting late and they decided to head back to their own campus. No one at the party stopped them from driving home even though all three were visibly intoxicated. As they were getting in the Jeep, Barry asked Alan if he thought he was okay to drive. Alan knew he had a pretty good “buzz” going, but he had driven this way before and nothing had ever happened.
While driving home, Alan was in the right/exit lane and clipped a 1991 Honda Prelude driven by Samantha McConnell. As Alan struck the Prelude, both vehicles lost control and rolled down the embankment. The roof of the Prelude collapsed, severely injuring Samantha and killing her three-year-old son Josh who was also in the car.
It was found that Alan had been driving his vehicle while intoxicated, and had a blood alcohol level of 0.12.
In addition to suing Alan in criminal court, the McConnell family is suing the Sigma Chi Fraternity for creating an unsafe environment and allowing Alan to leave their care and operate a vehicle.