You go to college to learn, this really annoys me when kids die pledging. It makes no sense.
A 20-year-old Phi Beta Sigma pledge at Prairie View A&M University underwent systematic hazing — including a strict bread-and-water diet, paddling and mandatory rigorous exercises — that intensified until it culminated in his death, a lawsuit filed by his parents states.
Donnie Wade II, a biology major studying to become a doctor, died Oct. 20 following a pre-dawn exercise session with a group of his pledge brothers, investigators said.
While the autopsy is not yet complete, Wade’s mother, Katrina, blames hazing for taking her only son from her.
“I will not rest until I am sure no other families will go through what we have,” she said.
Her husband, Wade I, is an associate pastor of the Dallas-area Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship.
The wrongful death lawsuit, filed Friday in Dallas County, seeks as much as $97 million in damages from the national fraternity based in Washington, D.C., the pledge trainer, Marvin Jackson, and Prairie View A&M.
Prairie View’s spokeswoman Sheleah Hughes said the university is continuing its probe into the incident and could not comment on the lawsuit.
Similarly, Phi Beta Sigma did not return phone calls. But in a recent Web site posting, the organization stated: “Hazing does not represent the tradition and principles of the 95-year history of our fraternity” and expressed its condolences to Wade’s parents.
The parents hired a private investigator, who took statements that led to the filing of the lawsuit, said the family‘s attorney, Kevin Kelley of Dallas.
The suit states that the younger Wade paid his $900 initiation fee and was given his acceptance letter from the Dangerous Delta Theta chapter of Beta Sigma Phi, as were nine other pledges.
‘The dreadful day’
Immediately afterward, Wade was subjected to “instant, systematic and continuous hazing incidents,” the suit states.
This included older pledges requiring him to run errands and purchase items including alcohol, a period where he could eat only bread and water, paddlings and finally exercise sessions.
The second and last exercise session — before all initiations into Prairie View organizations were indefinitely halted after Wade’s death — was referred to in the lawsuit as “the dreadful day.” An hour of nearly nonstop exercise included an “Indian run” in which the pledges must run in a line, with the last one required to sprint to the front of the pack and this process continues over and over around the track.
Witnesses said Wade fell behind the pack and the others had to help him cross the finish line, the lawsuit alleged.
When that exercise ended, the group was ordered to do the “snake,” which involved running up and down the bleachers, the lawsuit said.
Although Wade showed signs of “fatigue and over exertion”, the exercising continued with pushups and jumping jacks.
Drove him home first
The last exercise before Wade collapsed was called “6 inchers,” during which he was required to hold his legs 6 inches off the ground while lying on his back.
After the first set, Wade was unable to stand and told his trainer that he was “hurting,” the lawsuit said, and his fellow pledge members questioned whether Wade should continue.
The trainer, saying Wade was “just tired,” laughed at the pledges assisting Wade by checking his pulse and splashing water on his face as he collapsed a second time, the lawsuit said.
A bystander offered to call 911 for an ambulance, but was told that would not be necessary, the lawsuit said, and instead the group carried Wade, who had passed out, back to a car.
Then they drove Wade to his home, but after arriving, decided he didn’t look well and two members drove him from Waller County to a hospital in Harris County.
ME’s report due soon
Wade’s parents found none of the fraternity members at the hospital when they arrived and none contacted them about his death until telephoning to ask if they could attend the funeral a week later. The family’s attorney told the fraternity members that they would not be welcome there.
Hempstead Police Detective R.D. Martin, who is looking into the death, said video cameras at the hospital showed at least three members from the group came inside the hospital and stayed until learning Wade was dead.
The hospital report states Wade was dead when he arrived, but did not state the cause, leaving that to be determined by the autopsy, Martin said. Wade had no pre-existing medical condition, the family said.
Martin said he is expecting to receive the medical examiner’s report on the cause of death within a few days
Courtesy of the Houston Chronicle