Parents sue fraternity in son's death

November 9, 2009 11:09:29 AM PST
The parents of a Prairie View A&M student who died last month are taking action against the school and his fraternity.[ READ IT: Wade family lawsuit vs. fraternity and university]

The parents of Donnie Wade II have put their allegations in the lawsuit. They blame their son's death on rigorous fraternity hazing. Now it's on paper and in the courts.

In the lawsuit filed in Dallas County, it can't be any clearer. The parents of Donnie Wade II allege serious hazing led directly to his death.

The 20-year-old junior at Prairie View A&M was a prospective member of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity and a biology student with aspirations of becoming a doctor. Instead he died on October 20.

The lawsuit blames the university and the fraternity for his death. The family's Dallas attorney says it's based on a number of interviews with prospects and even one full-fledged member.

"These guys have all said in no unclear terms that Donnie was hazed," said attorney Kevin Kelley.

According to the lawsuit, in order for Wade to become a member, Phi Beta Sigma required him to follow a strict water and bread diet. Older fraternity brothers made him do chores, purchase alcohol and pick up and pay for their food. But nothing compares, the lawsuit says, to what happened early on October 20.

The lawsuit says in just an hour's time at Hempstead High School, Wade and other prospective members were forced to perform a series of sprints called Indian runs. They then had to run the bleachers, do push-ups, jumping jacks and ab exercises called six-inchers.

Even though Donnie was hurting, he was forced to continue, the lawsuit says, until he collapsed and even then it says no one called 911. Instead fraternity members drove him to his house before driving him to the hospital.

The school has declined to comment and the fraternity has never returned calls, but on its website a statement says hazing does not represent its tradition and principles. It calls Wade's death unfortunate.

The lawsuit is asking for almost $100 million. His parents want more.

Kelley explained, "The ultimate goal is to make sure no other parent has to lose their child the way the Wade family has lost Donnie. We believe that through this lawsuit hopefully we can encourage that to not happen again."

The family's attorney says Wade had no pre-existing health conditions. The results of the autopsy are pending and Hempstead police are still investigating whether anything criminal happened.

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