A wrongful death lawsuit claims Bethune-Cookman University failed to stop fraternity hazing that led to the death of a Marching Wildcat band member.
Marcus Thomas, a sophomore on a marching band scholarship, died in February 2012 when the car in which he was riding crashed into a utility pole in Daytona Beach.
In a lawsuit filed in Volusia County Circuit Court, Thomas’ mother says hazing by members of the Pi Gamma chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America subjected her son, the car’s driver and other pledges to sleep deprivation.
The lawsuit says the car’s driver fell asleep, leading to the fatal crash. Everyone else in the car survived.
The university and the then-coordinator of Greek Life “had direct knowledge of previous hazing activities occurring in student groups affiliated with BCU, including (the) fraternity, and did little or nothing to discipline the activity, thus sending a message to students that the anti-hazing policy was not enforced by the university,” according to the lawsuit.
Bethune-Cookman officials tell The Daytona Beach News-Journal said they could not comment specifically about the lawsuit.
“Bethune-Cookman University prides ourselves on having a zero tolerance on hazing and put mechanisms in place to ensure that doesn’t happen and if it does we address it to the fullest,” said Dwaun Warmack, the vice president who heads the department over students and student organizations.