UM teen found near death at fraternity house

4 a.m. discovery made after `bid night' on College Park campus

Freshman is critical

February 09, 2002|By Alec MacGillis | Alec MacGillis,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - A University of Maryland freshman from Montgomery County was in critical condition last night after being found unconscious at a fraternity house the morning after "bid night," when fraternities traditionally offer memberships to students.

The 19-year-old student was not breathing and was without a pulse when paramedics found him lying in a first-floor lounge in the Phi Sigma Kappa house on the College Park campus at 4 a.m. yesterday, according to Prince George's County Fire Department spokesman Mark Brady. The student, whose name was being withheld last night, was in critical condition at Washington Adventist Hospital, university spokesman George Cathcart said.

Brady said paramedics reported to hospital officials that they believed alcohol might have played a role.

"Their field observation was that they felt alcohol could be involved," Brady said. "How they made the determination, whether it was the environment they found him in or an observation of his physical stature, I don't know, but they did make it."

The incident occurred five months after the death of Alexander Klochkoff, a 20-year-old University of Maryland student from Long Island, who was found unconscious on the porch of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, a few doors down Fraternity Row from Phi Sigma Kappa. Medical examiners attributed the death to GHB, an illegal drug that comes in a clear liquid form and is used as a body-building enhancer, a date-rape drug and a party drug.

News that that ambulances and police had paid another visit to Fraternity Row unnerved the College Park campus yesterday.

"This morning, I had a class at 10, and there were all these reporters and police around, and, jokingly, people waiting around said, `Oh jeez, another frat boy incident,'" said sophomore Kevin Darmody. "I don't think people understood the severity of it."

The incident occurred several weeks into a strict new policy for the universities' fraternities, which are required to register a guest list with a limited number of students for all parties. The immediate effect of the policy is unclear, students said.

"I've heard a lot of `round-abouts' being discussed - `this is what we're going to do to get around it,'" said Tiffany Thompson, a sophomore from Baltimore County who represents the School of Arts and Humanities in the Student Government Association. "At the same time, I haven't heard about any big parties going on."

No arrests were made in connection with the incident, said campus police Capt. Paul Dillon. Phi Sigma Kappa members were allowed into the house yesterday afternoon.

Cathcart said the student had been living at the fraternity house for a few weeks, but it was unclear whether he was trying to join the fraternity or renting a room there. Some students rent rooms at fraternities because of the campus housing shortage, Cathcart said.

The university will determine what happened at Phi Sigma Kappa before deciding whether to further revise its fraternity rules, Cathcart said. "You can make all kinds of rules, but you can't guarantee that someone isn't going to find a way to harm themselves anyway," he said

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