BU fraternity, former members sued in 2013 student death
Freshman drank to excess at party
The parents of a Boston University freshman who died in 2013 after becoming intoxicated at a fraternity pledge party in Allston are now suing the fraternity and three members of the organization in federal court for the wrongful death of the New Hampshire native.
Anthony Barksdale II was a freshman engineering student who wanted to join the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity’s chapter at Boston University, according to the lawsuit filed in April in US District Court in Boston.
Barksdale, who was 18, three years below the legal drinking age of 21, was allegedly handed a 1.5-liter bottle of vodka — known as a “handle” — by a fraternity brother identified in the civil lawsuit as Jacob F. Beck who later told Barksdale’s father what he had done, according to the lawsuit.
“Tony was an inexperienced drinker and quickly became severely intoxicated as he tried to drink the contents of the handle during the party,’’ the family alleged in the lawsuit. The suit was filed by his father, Anthony W. Barksdale of Nashua and his mother, Melanie J. Ricard of Mont Vernon, N.H.
Beck and other fraternity brothers recognized that Barksdale was drunk and carried him outside the apartment building at 22 Wadsworth St. where the party was being held on the night of March 1, 2013, the lawsuit stated. “Tony collapsed on the ground,’’ the lawsuit alleged. No one sought emergency help “even though he was then in their care and unable to care for himself.’’
At that point, the fraternity brothers brought him back inside and put him on a couch, the lawsuit alleges, but no one called for emergency aid. Around 11:45 p.m., Barksdale’s college roommate saw him vomit — and it was at that point that partygoers recognized he was in need of medical attention and called 911, the lawsuit alleges.
Someone at the party performed CPR on Barksdale, who regained both consciousness and a pulse, and began to vomit again, lost his pulse, and stopped breathing, according to the lawsuit.
When Boston EMS arrived at 12:01 a.m., they tried to revive him, but were unable to do so and rushed him to Saint Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton, where he was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival on March 2, 2013.
An autopsy found his blood alcohol level was .33 percent, more than four times the .08 legal limit for drunken driving. The cause of death was “acute ethanol intoxication including acute aspiration pneumonia,’’ according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit stated that the fraternity held the party in Allston without notifying the university because they knew underage people would be attending. People were charged $5 per red plastic cup, according to the lawsuit. Barksdale was invited because he was one of six people seeking to pledge at the fraternity, according to the lawsuit.
The family is suing the national Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity and Beck, whom they identify as a 2013 BU graduate who was vice president of the chapter; Alex L. Cuetara, identified as a 2013 graduate and president of the chapter; and Edmond Gamelin III, a 2014 graduate who was a fraternity brother on the night of the party.
In a telephone interview, Cuetara’s attorney Joseph E. Phelan said, “My client doesn’t have any comment. My only comment is that the loss was a tragic one and our thoughts go out to his family.”
The national fraternity office did not immediately return messages for comment. The law firm identified in court records as representing the fraternity said no one was available to comment on the litigation.
A message left at a number listed as Beck’s address on court documents was not immediately returned either. Gamelin could not immediately be reached for comment.
Following Barksdale’s death, BU administrators banned the fraternity from having ties to the university, the Globe has reported.
Barksdale was a graduate of Souhegan Cooperative High School in Amherst, N.H., where he was an honors student who played three varsity sports — football, basketball, and track. At BU, during his first semester, his GPA was 3.3 as he started his pursuit of a degree in mechanical engineering.
“Tony’s promising future prematurely ended with his tragic death,’’ the lawsuit asserts.