Clemson Student’s Death Raises Questions

INVESTIGATION UNDERWAY IN TIGERTOWN … A 19-year-old Clemson University student was found dead this week … his body floating in the waters just below Lake Hartwell. Clemson police discovered the body of 19-year-old Tucker W. Hipps of Piedmont, S.C. at around 3:30 p.m. EDT on Monday and alerted the Oconee…


A 19-year-old Clemson University student was found dead this week … his body floating in the waters just below Lake Hartwell.

Clemson police discovered the body of 19-year-old Tucker W. Hipps of Piedmont, S.C. at around 3:30 p.m. EDT on Monday and alerted the Oconee County Sheriff’s Department – which retrieved the body shortly after 5:00 p.m.  Hipps’ was reported missing Monday to campus police.

What happened?

At this point no one knows … an autopsy is underway and an investigation is pending.  So far all police have said is Hipps’ death did not appear to be the result of a swimming or boating accident.

In other words it’s a “suspicious” death … and investigators are treating it as such.

Hipps was a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. According to the school, he was participating in an “early-morning group activity run” with his fraternity brothers but did not return from the run.

His fraternity brothers first noticed his absence at a breakfast Monday morning and informed campus police of his status shortly before 2:00 p.m.

Hipps was a sophomore at Clemson who was studying political science.  He attended Rock Springs Baptist Church in Easley, S.C. and played linebacker for the Wren High School football team.  In fact his high school coach told reporter Ron Barnett of The Greenville News  he was “one of those guys you could always count on.”

Developing …

(Click to enlarge)


UPDATE:  The Oconee County coronor has concluded Hipps’ death was caused by a head wound consistent with an “unsupported fall.”

UPDATE II: Clemson students are telling FITS Hipps’ death was the result of fraternity hazing.

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Same ol' Same ol' September 23, 2014 at 12:43 pm

My heart goes out to his family. I can’t imagine the grief they are experiencing now.
I hope they can determine what happened.

The Colonel September 23, 2014 at 1:03 pm

Which is it Will, The State says his body was found beneath the HWY 93 bridge, your headline and phot make it sound as if he was found

Will Folks aka Sic September 23, 2014 at 1:16 pm

Yeah there are a number of reports we are following up on …

The Colonel September 23, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Sad story but I work on a college campus and will invariably have this come up from students or other faculty – keep digging Will.

euwe max September 23, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Did you ever find that LSD I asked you for?

Gone too soon September 23, 2014 at 1:06 pm

It seems that two major things were happening in his life. A beauty queen girlfriend and pledging a fraternity. Two things that parents worry about having a devastating effect on their sons. According to other sources he was an accomplished swimmer and athlete. Whatever happened this is a truly sad time for everyone who knew him.

Parent September 23, 2014 at 3:29 pm

Bullshit, my son just married his beauty queen girlfriend, whom he met a Fraternity/Sorority mixer. Both are happy, well-adjusted, successful college graduates who secured high-paying jobs the day they graduated.

Bullshit September 23, 2014 at 3:41 pm

High paying jobs the day they graduated college? Family business, or I’m calling bullshit.

IslandLiving September 23, 2014 at 8:35 pm

Some of us that went to Clemson got an engineering degree and had multiple job offers pre-graduation…

Bullshit September 23, 2014 at 11:07 pm

Bully for you. I’ve done quite well in advertising, and?

Smirks September 23, 2014 at 3:50 pm

And that son’s name? Albert Einstein.

anotherparent September 23, 2014 at 4:02 pm

Girlfriends and fraternities are two of many things that can cause much worry to a college boy’s parents.

You sensitve naive pussy September 23, 2014 at 4:20 pm

And all of those stories go exactly like that you are saying? Unfortunately, many times these relationships go sour and one of the students is devastated. The stories are abundant of students who flunked out of college or worse over broken relationships and Greek life. Don’t be so damn sensitive.

Think about it dude September 23, 2014 at 6:17 pm

and was your son her first boyfriend?

Clemson Family Member September 23, 2014 at 9:59 pm

This should not even be a concern. As a fellow Clemson student, all of us are mourning and should not be criticized on social media during that process. We have all lost a friend and fellow student and the least you could do is have the decency to not write cruel things about his beloved girl friend. She is just as amazing and loved as Tucker. If you have more horribly insensitive things to say, please keep them to yourself. You are completely out of line and disrespectful to the parents, friends and other family members of the young boy who passed.

Clemson Family Member September 23, 2014 at 10:00 pm

That was in response to “Grow Up’s” insensitive post. My apologies for attaching it to “Parent”

ABC September 23, 2014 at 10:19 pm

First all, you’re right, this speculation is probably a little too soon. However, that said, this is a blog site that deals in the speculative. Thus, the original poster regarding the frat and girlfriend was just noting that those things may cause stress, And guess what?, he’s right, they are indeed the cause of stress too often. Anyway, I don’t think he’s blaming the girlfriend and frats per se, only that those things may have lead him to be in a depressed state (of which only his family and friends would know).. Look, I too have a sophomore son at Clemson and only wish this young man’s family/friends the most sympathies… I’d be devastated if that was my son. Peace!

CU Junior September 23, 2014 at 3:56 pm

Have you looked at his girlfriend’s social media pages? They appear to have been together for quite some time, at least for a couple their age, and appear to have had a wonderful relationship…she talked about how she hoped to see him in heaven someday, and how so many people told her he personally brought them to Christ. To insinuate that her, or their relationship, is somehow responsible for his death is a tremendously callous and insensitive thing to say. “Beauty queens” are flesh and blood people too, and I say this as a non-“beauty queen”, non-Greek female Clemson student.

Grow Up September 23, 2014 at 4:22 pm

I think the OP was simply saying that it could be a possibility. It appears that he/she mentioned two possibilities and one is apparently correct. Perhaps that parent has a more mature perspective, Junior.

CU Junior September 23, 2014 at 10:42 pm

But why take this time to take a cheap shot at his girlfriend when a quick Google search – the time it took him to write the paragraph – would have provided a plethora of evidence to the contrary?

Certainly frats/sororities and the people therein can cause problems for some people who partake. But I reiterate – why take a cheap shot at his girlfriend (for being a “beauty queen”, no less; would something have been different if she wasn’t attractive…?) when she is mourning the death of someone who meant very much to her?

The mature thing to do would have been to keep one’s insensitive, hurtful comments to oneself until more details are known.

Lame September 24, 2014 at 7:59 am

Yes, beauty queens. They spend all that time and money competing in pageants to show the world that they are just one of the girls. What is a “lover boyfriend” exactly? It reeks of premarital sex. Can you help me understand since you brought up Christ in this discussion.

Username September 24, 2014 at 10:07 am

Possibly it’s just a nickname. You can call it stupid, but more often than not couples have fun labels they call one another. I call my boyfriend “Lovey.” Perhaps “Lover Boyfriend” is just another couple-ish nickname. Even if it was indicative of premarital sex, it’s no business of yours.

CU Junior September 24, 2014 at 10:39 pm

Well, people spend a lot of time and money doing a wide variety of things. How much time and money do you think these D1 athletes and their parents have invested in their athletic talent? Camps, gyms, AAU and similar leagues that travel all across the country, all for the shot to play in the NCAA. I know kids who were playing in leagues 8 months out of the year and were conditioning the other 4, and I come from up north where year-round outdoor sports aren’t possible. How much time, money, and effort do you think those people spent?

If this is what she liked, this is what she liked. It’s not illegal, it’s not immoral, what’s the problem? It sounds like they made each other happy; unless you knew them personally, I don’t understand why you or anyone else would feel the need to tear them down.

Everything else I could say has already been eloquently articulated by Username.

euwe max September 23, 2014 at 1:32 pm

I think he was killed for his shorts.

HaterAid September 23, 2014 at 3:37 pm

You’re just jealous that girls would actually talk to him.

The Colonel September 23, 2014 at 4:23 pm

Girls talk to Euwe – if you count screaming that is…

Jackie Chiles September 23, 2014 at 2:24 pm

“According to the school, he was participating in an “early-morning group activity run” with his fraternity brothers but did not return from the run.”

Probably jumped off the bridge or something as a stunt.

The Colonel September 23, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Possibly, twenty or so feet off the water into 5-6 feet head first.

The Colonel September 23, 2014 at 2:47 pm
And there you are… Will be interesting to see why he jumped, was pushed or fell.

Clemson Man Whose Been There September 23, 2014 at 3:04 pm

That spot is just plain tricky if one does not know it well. He could have made a simple error in judgement. The bottom is very irregular as one can see when the lake is low.

I would never jump from that bridge. Maybe the 123 Bridge or the Railroad trestle adjacent to 123 but not the 93 bridge.

The Colonel September 23, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Pro Tip – never, ever, ever jump from anything unless you know for sure the water below is deep enough to be safe – basically that means if you can’t see or haven’t seen the bottom you shouldn’t jump.
I once participated in a night water jump where you parachute and land in the water (I never have figured out why anyone thinks it was a good idea). As I prepared to land, I expected to go well under water and was nice and relaxed thinking it would be a nice soft landing. I found myself flat on my back in two feet of water covered in 60 square feet of wet nylon. I nearly drowned trying to get it sorted out. I’d landed on a sand bar that “…wasn’t there yesterday…” according to the DZ safety officer.

Jackie Chiles September 23, 2014 at 3:46 pm

Definitely will be. I find it odd that they reported that he “didn’t return” as if he got lost or something on the run. I smell a cover up.

southmauldin September 23, 2014 at 2:27 pm

It’s spelled hazing. And unfortunately, somebody died as a result. But that is just speculation on my part, and I hope I’m wrong.

guest September 23, 2014 at 5:38 pm

You are wrong and because of people like you 90 young men and 3 very distaught friends in their time of sorrow are having to engage attorney’s to defend themselves. You need to think about the repercussions of your assumptions before you go making statements like that with no facts.

The Colonel September 23, 2014 at 6:15 pm

Yeah, looks like he was right – attorneys may be a good idea at this point.

William September 23, 2014 at 6:25 pm

Not maybe, definitely a good idea.

Bill September 23, 2014 at 7:23 pm

If this was a pledge requirement, someone is in deep trouble. If the school knew or suspected this was going on and did nothing to stop it, they are absolutely liable.

deeply saddened September 24, 2014 at 6:25 am

Fraternities also require mandatory study hall. Is that hazing?

Bill September 24, 2014 at 10:24 am

Jumping from a bridge into a lake is inherently dangerous. Study halls are not. In fact I am certain it is illegal to jump from a public bridge. If you require or incent someone to do this, it is probably criminal; at a minimum it is grossly negligent. Either way, someone is in deep trouble.

Goat September 23, 2014 at 3:37 pm

I’m sure this opens up some wounds for Brad Land.

Guest September 23, 2014 at 4:34 pm

The young man was participating in an early morning run (5:30 AM) with the other members of his pledge class – apparently he went back to help someone that was falling behind – at 5:30 in the morning, it is pretty dark outside. His fratenity brothers looked for him all morning – not realizing that he fell off of the bridge. Per the information that I have, the kids were not intoxicated. Tucker was apparently a very athletic kid – my son’s roommate at Clemson was one of Tucker’s fratenity brothers and they are all pretty rocked up about this. My son has even met Tucker and said he was a great kid.
Supposedly, he was alone when he went back to help a couple of fratenity bros catch up – no one is sure of what happened at this point other than a pretty tragic accident

Guest September 23, 2014 at 5:17 pm

This story doesn’t make any sense. When did he jump off the bridge? Are we to assume he did this alone? In the dark? Why were the police not called until 2pm? What was he helping with?

Takeit September 23, 2014 at 9:34 pm

You guys need to take it easy a bit on all the speculation. This guy was a sophomore, it’s probably rather rare that he was being forced to do anything and was being hazed as an upperclassman. The freshmen might have been being hazed if they were forced to run. I know plenty of groups that actually do run in the morning to stay in shape. I’d be surprised if hazing led to his death.

navy060923 September 24, 2014 at 12:42 am

As a parent of a college student, it frightens me to think of her being harmed in any way, much less receiving a call that my child had died.

We see college athletes receive attention and press, because their extended “athletic” network would light up social media in a heartbeat if something tragic happened to them.

I have seen the same grandiose support for young men and women, who were members of fraternities/sororities ans their families, who have been permanently disabled or died tragically.

My heart breaks for ANY family who has to go through this.

Almost 1 month ago, a female Clemson student died tragically due to an infection. Her parents were helpless as the doctors were unable to save her. Her life is and was just as important as the young man whose life ended tragically in recent days. He deserves to be remembered, and his family deserves support. Unfortunately, this young girl did not receive the same outpouring from Clemson students nor did she have USC students wearing orange to remember her.

As a society we need to value life, we need to value people and support one another equally, regardless of athletic prowess or fraternal affiliation.

Would your child’s life be honored at their respective university, if they were just the average college student? I don’t think they would be. I don’t think my average daughter would be.

We can do better.


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