According to a suit filed over the incident, a 19-year-old sophomore at Lenoir-Rhyne University died of the personal injuries he suffered to his head after being tackled repeatedly during a fraternity initiation ceremony in the fall of 2008.
On November 17, Tampa, Florida resident Harrison Kowiak was blindfolded, released into a dark field, and told he had to run to the other side of the field and locate a rock with his name on it, according to the suit his parents filed in Durham County Superior Court on July 31.
The suit said that while he was running, the fraternity members he hoped to soon join repeatedly pushed and tackled him. During the incident, he suffered a severe brain hemorrhage, causing his death hours later.
The 27-page complaint accuses the fraternity of a long history of hazing and claims the university failed to take enough action to enforce anti-hazing policies.
Kowiak’s parents have named Theta Chi fraternity, Lenoir-Rhyne University, two of the university’s administrators, and 21 fraternity members as defendants in the suit. They seek damages in excess of $10,000.
The suit was filed in Durham partially due to Durham resident Guy Crabtree being the administrator of Kowiak’s estate.
The suit says that Kowiak was a member of the golf team and weighed 160 pounds, while some of the fraternity members involved in the event, known as “bulldogging,” were football players who weighed more than 250 pounds.