A member of Indiana State University’s chapter of Sigma Chi fraternity
died early Sunday morning as a result of a water-related incident in Dennison,
Illinois. 18-year-old Yiorgo Karnezis was taking part in a Sigma Chi social
event in rural Clark County when he fell out of a small boat into a private
pond. Clark County Sheriff’s department, Marshall Fire, Marshall
Ambulance, and the Paris, Illinois Fire Department and Dive team assisted
in recovering the victim from the pond. Yiorgo Karnezis was later pronounced
dead at Terre Haute Regional Hospital.
As part of university process, all Sigma Chi operations have been suspended
while an investigation is conducted.
Deaths at Social Events Not Limited to Fraternities
The death of Yiorgo Karnezis has not been classified as hazing or alcohol-related
at this time. Unfortunately, many fraternity deaths across the United States
have been attributed to one or both of those causes. While fraternities and
athletics are often at the center of high-profile wrongful death cases,
the reality is that college-aged students are at-risk regardless of organizational
participation (or lack thereof). Over 1800 college students aged 18-24
die from unintentional alcohol-related accidents each year.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism highlights some facts about alcohol-related deaths on college campuses,
and some of them seem counterintuitive. For example, binge drinking has
been decreasing among college students, and most freshmen arrive on campus
with healthy attitudes about drinking and alcohol. Still, alcohol-related
hospitalizations of college students are up 70%.
Hazing deaths also usually involve alcohol. More than 80% of all hazing
deaths in the United States are alcohol-related. Hazing still happens
on many college campuses despite 44 states having anti-hazing laws and
colleges cracking down hard on violators. Many national fraternities have
adopted zero tolerance policies for hazing, including Sigma Chi. Still,
there continues to be at least one hazing-related death and numerous injuries
Peer Expectations Are Dangerous on Campus
Health experts say one of the reasons serious injuries and death continue
to occur on college campuses is younger students’ desire to live
up to the expectations of upperclassmen. This can be particularly dangerous
in organizations like fraternities. Between the intense desire of freshmen
to belong and the images made popular by movies like
Animal House, there can be intense pressure to engage in risky, sometimes lethal behavior.
A study of fraternity insurance claims paint a picture of multiple dangers
impacting the lives of young people on campus. Only 7% of claims were
related to hazing liability. Nearly a quarter of fraternity liability
claims dealt with assault and battery, with the remaining cases comprised
15% of sexual assault claims, 10% slip and fall, 9% fall from heights,
and 7% auto accidents.
The number of young people’s lives destroyed or permanently altered
as a result of college-based accidents is far too high. Alcohol and peer
pressure create a dangerous situation for many college students, and hazing
adds another dimension for those looking to join a team, fraternity, sorority,
or other organization. If your college-aged child has been seriously injured
in an accident you believe happened due to the negligent, reckless, or
intentional behavior of another, the
personal injury attorneys at Wagner Reese will ensure you understand your legal options and will
fight for the compensation you deserve to take care of your loved one.
Call us today for a free consultation at (888) 204-8440.