Fraternity, four men charged in alcohol death at Pa. college

Victim, 19, of Westminster was found dead in Dec. after drinking at party

Former high school star athlete

May 21, 2004|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

Four men and a York College fraternity have been charged with sponsoring the party and supplying the alcohol that led to the death of a former Westminster star athlete at the college in December, police in Pennsylvania said yesterday.

Misdemeanor charges of selling or furnishing liquor to a minor have been mailed to the Sigma Delta Chi fraternity and to Michael H. Joseck, 20, of Wilmington, Del.; Charles Thomas Fouraker, 19, of Boothwyn, Pa.; Fredrick Peruggia, 21, of York, Pa.; and Christopher Paul Savaiano, 20, of Voorhees, N.J., police said.

Savaiano has also been charged with the purchase, consumption, possession and transportation of liquor, said Spring Garden Township Police Chief George J. Swartz.

Andrew S. Hayes, a 19-year- old freshman, was found dead in his bed at the Spring Garden Apartments in York on Dec. 13. Toxicology reports showed that he died from an overdose of grain alcohol. When Hayes died, his blood-alcohol level was 0.35 percent. No drugs were detected in his system, and there was no evidence of assault or injury, police said.

Hayes, a track and soccer star, was Westminster High School's Male Athlete of the Year in 2002. During his senior year, he was named Carroll County Indoor Track Performer of the Year by The Sun.

Swartz said Hayes attended a party held at the off-campus fraternity house the night before he died. He was not a member of the fraternity but knew the men who have been charged in the incident.

The next step will be to schedule a preliminary hearing in the district magistrate's office, Swartz said.

"This is clearly a tragic incident," Swartz said. "We can only hope students who knew Andrew and are familiar with this incident understand that at that age they're not indestructible."

Hayes' family continues to struggle with his death.

"Losing a son is very hard," said his mother, Mary Armacost Hayes. "I didn't send my son to college to die. The last couple of months have been horrible."

She said she credits the Spring Garden Township police with pursuing her son's case and "not letting this be written off as a kid who drank too much."

She and her family learned from authorities that her son attended the party and drank from a bottle of high-proof, sweet-tasting alcohol that was being passed around at the party. Had her son known how potent the drink was, he would have avoided it, she said.

"At least the message is going to come across that there's got to be some accountability," Hayes said. "I would never want any other parent to go through what we've gone through."

David Salter, director of public relations at York College, said the men charged in the incident were students at the school at the time of Hayes' death. He said at least three of them are members of the Sigma Delta Chi fraternity.

"There is a misconception when something happens off campus, students are immune," he said. "Sanctions have been levied against students as well as their organization." He said he could not provide further details.

Salter said the college does not allow alcohol on campus. The 10 fraternities and seven sororities at York College are housed off-campus. He admits that drinking is a problem at the school, but not unusually so.

This is not the first death at a York College fraternity house. In 1990, Time magazine reported the death of an inebriated 20-year-old student who fell from the roof of an apartment building during a party sponsored by the Sigma Pi fraternity.

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