College freshman dies 6 days after suspected hazing incident

On this day: July 14
Yumi Kimura via Wikimedia Commons
1966: Richard Speck murders eight student nurses from South Chicago Community Hospital in a Chicago dormitory. He was sentenced to death, but that sentence was later overturned due to issues with jury selection at his trial. Speck died of a heart attack in 1991 while still in prison.

An 18-year-old University at Buffalo student died Wednesday after falling victim to a suspected hazing incident last week, his school’s president said in a statement.

“I am deeply saddened to share with you that UB freshman Sebastian Serafin-Bazan passed away today,” University at Buffalo President Satish K. Tripathi said. “Our hearts go out to Sebastian’s family for the devastating heartbreak they are experiencing.”

Serafin-Bazan was hospitalized last Friday with “a serious medical condition” as a result of a possible hazing incident, Tripathi said in a statement to the university community on Friday before announcing the suspension of all fraternity and sorority activities.

Serafin-Bazan was at the Sigma Pi fraternity’s off-campus house when an undisclosed incident that led to the student’s injury took place, the fraternity said when they learned of the incident last week.

The fraternity says it’s deeply saddened by Serafin-Bazan’s death and extends its “heartfelt condolences to Sebastian’s family and friends during this extremely difficult time.”

“We remain in communication with the Buffalo Police Department and University officials, and have offered our support for their ongoing investigation,” the fraternity said.

The Buffalo Police Department, New York State Police, and university police are investigating the incident and looking into whether or not drugs and or alcohol played a role.

The university and fraternity are also each initiating an internal investigation and review.

“The (university’s) internal review will continue this spring and through the summer,” John Della Contrada, University at Buffalo Interim Vice President for Communications, tells CNN. The results of the review will be made public, he added.

“As the investigation into this very serious matter continues, let me reiterate that our university has zero tolerance for hazing. Not only are hazing incidents a violation of our university policies, but they are also crimes,” Tripathi said Friday.

Della Contrada said he’s not aware of any hazing deaths in the history of the university, and Sigma Pi did not answer multiple questions from CNN including how many hazing-related activities have lead to injury or death, or how many lawsuits the fraternity has had or is facing in relation to hazing-related incidents.

Sigma Pi told CNN that it “deplores hazing” and is “establishing a revised alcohol policy that bans hard alcohol” from their premises.

On its website, the fraternity identifies several Sigma Pi chapters whose charters have been revoked for “being found responsible for hazing new members.”

A new member of the fraternity’s Ohio University chapter died after EMTs responded to a 911 medical emergency call at an off-campus residence in November of last year, Sigma Pi said in a post.

Sigma Pi has more than 120 active chapters and colonies in the US and Canada, with over 100,000 alumni and 5,700 undergraduates, it says.

Carma Hassan contributed to this report.