REPORTS REINFORCE “DEATH BY HAZING” ALLEGATIONS
Those reports sparked a firestorm of controversy at the school – but were quickly downplayed by local law enforcement.
“There has been speculation and innuendo, especially on social media, regarding whether hazing played a part in the death of Tucker Hipps,” Oconee County sheriff Mike Crenshaw said at the time. “So far, there has been no indication in the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office investigation that hazing played a part in the death of Tucker Hipps.”
Fast-forward to this week, when Clemson University unceremoniously fired its vice president of student affairs – one week after Hipps’ parents told local television station WYFF TV 4 (NBC – Greenville) that the school’s fraternity pledging processes were “broken” and that the truth about their son’s death had yet to come out.
“There is more to the story then what has been told,” Gary Hipps told the station.
He’s right …
An autopsy found that Hipps died as a result of head trauma sustained during an “unsupported fall” from a bridge near the Clemson campus. And while Hipps’ fraternity brothers said he fell behind during an early morning fitness event, multiple sources told FITS the bridge Hipps fell from is linked to a “particular tradition” for Hipps’ fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon.
“You jump in and have to swim to the other side,” one student explained to FITS.
Jump in? Turns out that may have been a generous depiction of the ritual …
FITS is now hearing from multiple sources that Hipps – rather than jumping into the water – was instead being held over it as part of a hazing ritual shortly before the “unsupported fall” took place.
“He was being dangled by his ankles off the bridge,” one source familiar with the situation tells FITS, adding he was “dropped by accident.”
While not getting into those sorts of specifics, a source at Clemson has confirmed to FITS that Hipps’ parents were recently informed that a hazing ritual gone wrong was responsible for their son’s death – and that the school was taking the “necessary steps” to ensure similar tragedies did not occur in the future.
Hipps is the second Clemson fraternity member to die under questionable circumstances in as many years. Last October another 19-year-old fraternity member – Timothy Michael Reece, Jr. of Sullivans Island, S.C. – died at Clemson. Reece belonged to the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, and multiple sources tell FITS his death was related to his association with the organization.
In related news, Clemson is currently being sued related to an alleged hazing incident associated with its women’s soccer program. In that suit – news of which broke exclusively on FITS – officials at the school are alleged to have covered up the particulars of the hazing.
Stay tuned … we’re hearing much more regarding the Hipps case and hope to have additional updates soon.