Initiation Week at a Midwestern Chapter turned deadly when actives and pledges were allowed free time between events. Some chose to go to the bars, hang out and drink until they were to report to the off-campus site. The tradition at the chapter was to travel to a site 10 miles away for an initiation lecture. Approximately 30 actives and 15 pledges were to travel from the chapter house to the ritual site on back roads, with each pledge blindfolded and riding in an automobile with actives.
One of the cars carried three active members and one pledge; an active, Sam Dillon age 21 drove. The other actives, both 20 years old, were Terry Simpson and Mitchell Hampton. The pledge Tom Williams was age 19.
On the way to the site Sam turned around to reach in the back seat for a cigarette from Terry; it was at this time that he lost control of the car. The vehicle flipped and landed in a ditch. Terry and Mitchell were thrown from the backseat and landed in a field. Tom was thrown through the window, crushed by the car, and died instantly.
Sam tested negative for intoxication, but Tom, who was only 19, had a blood alcohol level of 1.8, well above the legal limit for intoxication. Tom was served alcohol at a nearby bar, The Beach. The bar had closed at 1:00 a.m. but Tom was still intoxicated at 3:30 a.m. when the crash took place.
Despite the fact that it was an accident, Tom’s parents filed a lawsuit against your organization for creating an unsafe environment and taking Tom, blindfolded and under the care of the chapter, to the event.