WSU peers stress importance of Good Samaritan law amid fellow student’s death

WSU peers stress importance of Good Samaritan law amid fellow student’s death
Copyright 2019 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without prior permission.
A 19-year-old man died in the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity at WSU early Tuesday morning. Police said his death may be linked to alcohol. 

Reports from Pullman Police that the death of a Washington State University student was possibly alcohol-related has other students stressing the importance of the Good Samaritan law.

Police told 4 News Now on Wednesday that hazing did not play a role in the death of 19-year-old Samuel Martinez, a student at WSU originally from Bellevue.

Though hazing wasn’t involved, police say it looks like alcohol was. Whether the 19-year-old had been drinking is still part of the investigation into his death.

Police went to the fraternity Tuesday morning after a call about an unconscious person. When crews arrived, they found Martinez, unconscious and not breathing.

By the time paramedics arrived, he had already died.

“At this point, I think I can safely say that I don’t believe that hazing was a factor in this incident, and it was just an unfortunate alcohol overdose,” said Jake Opgenorth, operations commander for Pullman Police Department.

Police define hazing on a college campus as doing something – including drinking – to get membership into a group, like a fraternity.

But after interviewing many ATO members at WSU, they’re getting the same response.

“The use of alcohol that night was voluntary. And it was straight up, they said – it wasn’t out of requirement,” Opgenorth said.

The Greek community at WSU said they are voluntarily suspending all activities for the rest of the semester.

“We’re more used to handling these type of calls. Unfortunately, we get the students that have had too much to drink and need help,” Opgenorth said.

A student on campus told us he’s seen it on WSU’s Greek row on more than one occasion.

“Walking along, I saw this girl, and she was obviously drunk. Had no pants on she was on the ground on the mall, kind of like holding on the ground. I called 911, called the police, called the ambulance. And when the cop came over, he said first of all, I can’t arrest you because someone called in good faith, the Good Samaritan law,” said Andrew Kerin, senior at WSU.

This WSU senior said he’s often seen other students afraid of calling for help because they’re underage.

“There’s a guy who was with me and was like – don’t call the police, don’t call the police because she’ll get in trouble and I’ll get in trouble and all these things. I was like – you’re a coward, you need to make sure that she’s safe,” Kerin said.

Under the Good Samaritan law, if you are underage and drinking but call 911 in good faith, they won’t punish you.

This student wants everyone to know it and live it. So do police.

“Any alcohol-related offenses, we don’t do anything about, and we don’t care about. All we care about is that we get the proper medical assistance,” Opgenorth said.

Police haven’t arrested anyone and said Wednesday, they don’t plan to make any arrests at this time.

4 News Now reached out to the WSU Greek community on campus to see if they wanted to make a comment, they said all media had to go through the vice president for marketing and communications at the university’s communications office.

4 News Now tried several times reaching out for comment on Martinez’s death. None of our calls were returned.