Family of alleged hazing victim speaks out

October 23, 2009 4:56:44 AM PDT
Prairie View A&M student Donnie Wade died early Tuesday morning and his family is demanding answers. We have new developments on the two investigations into Wade's death. Hempstead police have now opened a criminal investigation specifically to find out if hazing was involved in the prospective fraternity member's death. While hazing is forbidden, Donnie's family believes it's alive and well.

For Donnie Wade, Sr., his son's death is an unbearable loss.

"He was the wings beneath my feet. He carried me. I didn't carry him. He carried me," said Wade, Sr.

Inside his Dallas home Thursday, the grief is obvious. Hearts are heavy.

Donnie Wade II, a junior at Prairie View A&M and a prospective member of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity, died Tuesday morning. What makes it even harder is that his family believes the seemingly healthy 20-year-old died while being hazed.

"Apparently they had run him so long for such a long distance under such extreme conditions his body was not able to continue on," said great uncle Milton Flowers.

According to Hempstead police, Wade was with seven other prospects and one member of the fraternity at the track at Hempstead High School early that morning. Ten prospects were told to be there at 5am, two didn't show up. The ones who did, investigators say, were told to run.

About an hour in, Wade collapsed, but according to family members no one called an ambulance. Instead the students drove him to the hospital and left.

"That tells me a lot about a fraternity," said Flowers.

Wade's parents had just spent the weekend with him. Hazing, they say, was something he feared.

"He said you, you just don't know," said Wade, Sr.

Police are still questioning those who were with Donnie. The university is also investigating and late Thursday, its president suspended all pledging activities. In a statement, Prairie View A&M President George C. Wright said, "The University is taking this situation very seriously. It is imperative that we discontinue all fraternity and sorority membership intake activities until we receive a full account of events that led up to the death of Mr. Wade."

His family believes the university is doing the right thing. They blame the fraternity.

"The fear I saw in my son from this 'sorority' I had never seen in my life," said Wade, Sr.

The student's father chose the word 'sorority.' That was not a mistake. He tells us Donnie, an aspiring doctor, eventually wanted to be president of the fraternity, ironically so he could change how prospective members are treated. The medical examiner is still working on a cause of death.

Hazing is not only against Prairie View A&M policy, but it's against the law. If Wade's death turns out to be the result of hazing, Texas law could send those responsible to jail. The fraternity could also face a fine.

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