Nation

Police arrest 10, one from Mass., in drinking death of LSU fraternity pledge

BATON ROUGE, La.— Ten people, including one from Westwood, Mass., were arrested Wednesday on hazing charges in the death of a Louisiana State University fraternity pledge whose blood-alcohol content level was more than six times the legal limit for driving, officials said.

LSU said in a statement that one of the 10 suspects — Matthew Alexander Naquin, 19, of Boerne, Texas — also faces a negligent homicide charge in the death last month of 18-year-old Maxwell Gruver, a freshman from Roswell, Ga.

Advertisement

An autopsy showed Gruver’s blood-alcohol content level at the time of his death was 0.495, a coroner said Wednesday. The legal blood-alcohol limit for driving in Louisiana is 0.08 percent.

Eight of the suspects are LSU students and were active members of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity, according to university spokesman Ernie Ballard. He said all 10 turned themselves in to LSU police on Wednesday. The hazing charges against all 10 suspects, whose ages range from 18 to 21, are misdemeanors.

Get Ground Game in your inbox:
Daily updates and analysis on national politics from James Pindell.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

LSU president F. King Alexander said that the arrests ‘‘underscore that the ramifications of hazing can be devastating.’’

Gruver’s family “will mourn his loss for the rest of their lives, and several other students are now facing serious consequence — all due to a series of poor decisions,’’ he added.

Gruver died at a Baton Rouge hospital on Sept. 14 after fraternity members found him lying on a couch at the fraternity house and couldn’t tell if he was breathing, police said.

Advertisement

Clark, the coroner, concluded Gruver died of acute alcohol intoxication with aspiration. The autopsy found Gruver inhaled vomit and other fluid into his lungs, said Clark. He ruled the death an accident.

Witnesses told police that the fraternity’s pledges were forced to drink to excess on the night before Gruver’s death, during a game or initiation ritual called ‘‘Bible Study’’ that required pledges to drink if they incorrectly answered questions about the fraternity.

A witness told police that Gruver was ‘‘highly intoxicated’’ when fraternity members laid him on a couch and left the house sometime early on Sept. 14. Around 11 a.m., members found Gruver still on the couch with a weak pulse, police said. Two people drove him to a hospital, where he died later that day.

The fraternity’s national office said it closed the chapter after Gruver’s death.

The nine suspects facing only hazing charges are Zachary Castillo of Gretna; Sean-Paul Gott of Lafayette; Sean Pennison of Mandeville; Hudson Kirkpatrick of Baton Rouge; Elliott Eaton of New Orleans; Patrick Forde of Westwood, Mass.; Nicholas Taulli of Cypress, Texas; Zachary Hall of Charlotte, N.C.; and Ryan Isto, who is from Canada.

Gott and Forde aren’t enrolled at LSU, according to Ernie Ballard, a school spokesman, when reached by phone Wednesday. But he said Forde, 20, was previously enrolled there.

A call placed to the Forde family home in Westwood was not immediately returned to the Globe Wednesday night.

John McLindon, a lawyer for Naquin, said he does not know why his client is the only suspect facing a felony charge of negligent homicide.

Globe correspondent Jacob Carozza contributed to this report.
Loading comments...
Real journalists. Real journalism. Subscribe to The Boston Globe today.