WRONGFUL DEATH SUIT FILED BY STUDENT’S FAMILY ALLEGES COVER-UP
|| By FITSNEWS || The family of Tucker Hipps – the 19-year-old Clemson student who died last September after an “unsupported fall” from a bridge near campus – has filed a wrongful death suit which specifically references fraternity hazing. And a cover-up of the events leading to Hipps’ death.
The suits – filed by parents Cynthia Hipps and Gary Hipps – allege Tucker Hipps had some sort of dispute with one of his Sigma Phi Epsilon brothers before he “went over the railing of the bridge into the shallow waters of Lake Hartwell head first.”
The suit also alleges a deliberate effort to conceal the circumstances surrounding Hipps’ death from authorities – even as fraternity leaders were vowing to “see that those responsible are brought to justice.”
“The culture of hazing and inappropriate conduct by social fraternities must be stopped,” the suit stated. “Universities and fraternities must make change from within to protect their own. Cynthia and Gary Hipps have filed these lawsuits in the hopes that change will happen and that no other parent will feel the pain that they have been forced to endure. Tucker lost his life, but we must not let it be in vain.”
Three Sigma Phi Epsilon brothers – Thomas Carter King, Campbell T. Staff and Samuel Quillen Carney – were named in the suit. Carney is the son of U.S. Rep. John Carney, a three-term congressman from Delaware.
The suit also names the fraternity, its Clemson chapter (which was recently slapped with a five-year suspension) and Clemson University as defendants. Each suit seeks $25 million in damages.
Clemson University students told FITS in the immediate aftermath of Hipps’ death that fraternity hazing was involved. Those reports sparked a firestorm of controversy at the school – and earned us a sharp rebuke from 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.”
Oconee County – which has a reputation for accommodating Clemson University – has yet to issue the results of its “investigation,” by the way.
For its part, Sigma Phi Epsilon has previously stated there was “no evidence” hazing played a role in Hipps’ death.
Clemson University? It has refused to comment on the situation altogether …
Two months after Hipps’ death, though, Clemson 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.
Hipps died of blunt force trauma to the head following an unsupported fall from the bridge at around 5:00 a.m. EDT on September 22. Hipps’ fraternity brothers – who didn’t report him as missing until 2:00 p.m. – said he fell behind during an early morning fitness event, although at this point nobody is buying that explanation.
Last December, FITS published an exclusive report suggesting Hipps might have been dropped from the bridge.
“He was being dangled by his ankles off the bridge,” one source familiar with the situation tells FITS, although this source told us at the time that Hipps was “dropped by accident.”
According to the lawsuit, one of Hipps’ fraternity brothers received a phone call early Monday morning indicating another frat brother was “pissed off” that Hipps had not bought him and other members their breakfasts. Specifically, thirty McDonald’s biscuits, thirty hash browns and two gallons of chocolate milk. The ensuing confrontation is said to have ended with Hipps’ “unsupported fall” from the bridge.
The suit also alleges Hipps’ “brothers” lied about their knowledge of these events in an effort to evade responsibility.
Specifically, one fraternity member is accused of texting Hipps’ girlfriend and telling her that Hipps had been seen in the school’s library the morning of his death – a lie. He later texted his “brothers” to inform them of this fabrication, telling them the deception would help them “buy some time.”
The suit also contends that two of the defendants attempted to delete all of the information on their cell phones – and that one defendant even switched his phone number in the aftermath of Hipps’ death.
Even more unbelievable? Oconee County has yet to make any arrests in the case. In fact a spokesman for the local sheriff’s office said the lawsuit would have “no impact” on its ongoing investigation.
“Oconee County sheriff Mike Crenshaw ….. no indication…hazing played a part in the death of Tucker Hipps”
Please choose one
a) Sheriff Crenshaw’s head is up his ass
b) Sheriff Crenshaw is as smart as Howard’s rock
c) Sheriff Crenshaw is bucking for a position at Clemson
d) All of the above
“one defendant even switched his phone number in the aftermath”
— and the sheriff switched his name to “Cringe-shaw”
Clemson has a history of protecting fraternities and slack supervision of them. They should have investigated this incident and put in place the discipline that would have insured this kind of thing never happens again. It probably would have meant some fraternities would have been terminated on campus. They failed to do this because they are self serving, wishing to hide their lack of responsible supervision, and because they don’t want to lose ex fraternity donors. Clemson specializes in the “circle the wagons” type of administration. There are countless examples.
Please, regale us with several of these “countless examples”. And actual proof, rather than anecdotal conjecture would be great.
Two recent examples of Clemson “defensive leadership” are their response to the letter to Clemson from the Freedom From Religion group and the response to protests and requests to rename Tillman Hall. http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaf/2014/05/01/clemson-ffrf-misconstrued-facts-in-complaint/8563385/
Defensive as in maintaining the status quo and denying there is a problem.
It is difficult to admit to a problem when one doesn’t exist. You think we need to remove that statue of slaveholder George Washington from the state capitol steps?
CNSYD, You must have gone to Clemson.
Yep. Also don’t go to a church where they sing “Amazing Grace” as the lyrics were written by a former slave ship captain.
There’s that word again (rebuke). Oh, and what would a “ceremonious” firing look like? You aren’t a very good writer, but at least your content matches your writing skills.
So glad to see the family take this action, not only because they deserve to hear the truth about what happened, but because they stand to expose an undercurrent of genuine evil. The Clemson administration fired people like Ludlow, Troutman, and DiSabatino for trying to be accountable, and now the administrators who believe they are above the law are going to be exposed. A-freaking-men.
Agreed. The fraternity, the specific individuals and the university should be held accountable.
Do you or did you work there? Do you know if DiSabatino or someone in the administration under her wing approved a SPE pledge class management plan that included morning runs?
Check out the specifics in the lawsuit. I believe it covers that.
Not the email in the lawsuit papers. Was there a plan submitted in writing at the beginning of the semester that mentioned running, and that was approved by DiSabatino or someone under her? That may be the reason for her firing.
Not privy to that information.
You aren’t “privy” to much of anything on any subject but speculation and conjecture.
Is that you, Jim?
No Will it is not.
ok. just a theory of mine after reading the lawsuit. thought you were an employee there based on your past posts.
Dumb face thinks every allegation in a civil suit is gospel. Who has been deposed? No one. When the money gets right, the suit will settle. No one “wins” but the lawyers.
DiSabatino didn’t get fired for this. She was fired because she sucked at her job.
And she also happened to turn over to law enforcement alleged wrongdoings by fraternities at Clemson. Remarkably, this happened just weeks before she was fired.
Make sure you wear your tin-foil hat when you go outside. Conspiracies everywhere!
We will see how things play out in court.
Once again dumb face demonstrates his lack of knowledge. Most civil cases rarely make it to court. If they do, some last only until the jury is chosen and seated. Then the judge announces the sides have settled. It is all about the money. Not facts, not truth.
You’ve copied a name misspelling from the Greenville News’ version of the story. #journalismrocks
To the boys (and I mean boys) of the Clemson chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon, you are about to bring the wrath of a grieving family down upon your heads and frankly, you deserve it. Had you manned up (remember the “Balanced Man”?) and told the truth from the beginning you probably could have averted what is about to happen. Your organization and associations ares about to be examined in ways you always hoped would never happen. Every “sin” you’ve committed individually and collectively is about to be exposed – regardless of whether it had anything to do with this tragedy.
Do you have a chance to stop this before even the innocent are permanently damaged? Maybe. There has to be one or two of you who; a. know what happened and b. have some sense of integrity and empathy, go now and tell Sheriff
FifeCrenshaw what happened. Tell the whole story and leave nothing out. Tucker Hipps deserves it, his family deserves it and it’s the right thing to do. Will there be consequences? Most definitely – you own virtue demands that you act anyway.
I think you meant to say Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane.
Yup. It’s time the step up to the plate, boys. Rat out your “brothers” NOW. I’m 150 miles away from Clemson and even I know the real truth.
Often times the measure of a man is not his success, but how he handles failure. By that metric, the Clemson chapter of SPE and the men associated with it are all failures.
In a nutshell… You done fucked up.
Is this more of an indictment of Clemson University or fraternities in general?
This is largely an indictment of a bunch of boys who don’t believe a word of the oath they swore to the organization they belong to.
And a lot of people here trying to blame Clemson, the police, SLED, and anyone else that is remotely connected.
too early to say
Keep up the good investigative work, Oconee.
Some of y’all seem to believe that you know the facts of this sad event. How is it that you know them?
Indeed. Let the the court system do it’s job, and let the chips fall where they may. Don’t presume guilt until founded. If you saw what happened you should have reported it to the Sheriff.
Anyone that knows the truth should report what they know. Peanut gallery commentators should keep quite until the truth is determined. If crimes occurred, all involved should face their punishment.
How long should it take for law enforcement to close the case?
When they find out who did it.
If they were doing such a bad job, wouldn’t SLED get involved?
Oh..more FGF “Clemson conspiracies”, right?
SLED did get involved, assigning a single agent to the case a while ago. Of course, one might ask why SLED would be any more capable than anyone else.
Because they are based out of Columbia, and not in the upstate, where all of you people swear Clemson is getting preferential treatment in regards to…everything.
I hate to ask a dumb question, but how would one get a copy of this or any other civil lawsuit?
Public information. At the courthouse.
The state newspaper has a link on their webpage.
Will, Does Clemson get the protection of the state in this case? I thought the state, or government agency of the state, can only be sued for 600k max per occurrence.
I’m not sure why Clemson would need any protection at all. They would have to be named as being at least complicit in the event; and it first would have to be proven what the event was.
As much as many on this board would like to see it, just because someone died doesn’t necessarily mean Clemson had anything to do with it.
The Sig Eps emailed a request to Clemson Administration for permission for the run and never got an affirmative answer. So the run was never approved. Doesn’t this exonerate Clemson?
I would think so.
I’m failing to see where Clemson, or any university, becomes a giant kindergarten.
Why the Hell can’t the Oconee Sheriff do his job? There are texts, cell phone records, and proven lies surrounding this death.
In the Vanderbilt rape case, several kids were charged with obstruction and related crimes for deleting texts, videos and/or pictures. Oconee Co Sheriff’s Dept should be ashamed of themselves.
Is the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office complicit in a cover-up or just incompetent?
What kind of douchebag “brothers” fail to jump in to check on the damn kid? These fellas are about to learn what I mean when I tell people “The cover up is worse than the crime.”
If they had simply called police at 5 am, told them you were messing around with a pledge and a tragedy occurred – i.e. “I dropped him by accident” you would be looking at a simple misdemeanor charge that would likely go into a pre trial diversion program. Sure, the frat gets shut down for a few years, but who gives a shit at that point….a kid, your brother, is dead!
These guys must be the biggest assholes on campus. I was in a frat, and we hazed (hopefully in a safe and funny manner) but I can guarantee you if a brother had fallen over Niagra falls, the brothers doing the hazing would have jumped in after him.
Totally agree with you! Like it or not, when boys pledge fraternities they have a sense of what they are getting into. The issue, the tragedy, here is not buying biscuits, lack of sleep or morning runs — it’s sensing that a “brother” did not come up from a fall to the water and not calling all pledges to help try to find/rescue him in that moment. He may have lived! And then to continue with the alleged cover-ups in the hours that followed? That is reprehensible, shameful and requires severe consequences.
What kind of douchebags? The kind of guys who would go to Clemson.
Faux CNSYD strikes again. Grow a pair and post under your own screen name.
Must be a slow news day if all Sick Willy can do is trump-up criticism of Clemson. Would he have been better off in 5-Points?
Actually, he reported on the “fraternity related tragedy” in Five Points last week: https://www.fitsnews.com/2015/03/18/another-south-carolina-fraternity-death/
You really are an asshole. Bringing up a football score? Shame on you.
Any fool can post on Sic Willie’s site using someone else’s identity. Such is the case here. It is just another of Sic Willie’s sophomoric buddies. Now when Mace did this site’s IT, there was a fix for this. But alas she is gone. Now that great libertarian Sic Willie virtually requires you to join Disqus so you can be tracked. You can’t even up or down vote a post without being logged in. Such a “free market” charlatan is Sic Willie.
Mace did “IT” now? Wasn’t she just a web designer? Thats a long way from “IT”.
Unless someone talks, there is no way criminal charges will stick. Its pretty obvious the brothers dropped him either by accident or on purpose. Perhaps part of a hazing tradition perhaps not. Either way there was no intent to harm the kid. Its just a terrible accident and a bunch of kids looking to hide their involvement to protect their daddies’ bank accounts and their shitty futures selling insurance or whatever.
Maybe not. But Civil charges WILL most likely stick. Their daddies will have to sell the beach house to pay the lawyers. And hopefully the three named boys will face a future of shame.
See my comment above. Winning is it’s only reward here. The parenst won;t be attacked as the defendants aren’t minors. What money do you think they have? Think the Hipps family will be happy with koozies, kroakies and bow ties as their booty?
In civil suits the lawyers (ambulance chasers) try to tie in deep pockets defendants. In this case it is Clemson. It is all about the money.
Wrong. The family wants answers as to how their only son died. The police and the university, who have stone-walled the family, are now reaching for anything that will help them extend their cover-up of the circumstances surrounding the death.
On the matter of money, maybe it’s a good thing Barker ran up that $100 million slush fund.
If that is all the family wants, where did the price tag come from? I assume you have contacted the 10th circuit solicitor with all your inside information. Did the OCSO and/or SLED already interrogate you? Will you be deposed in the lawsuit?
I am so sick of your idiotic posts, you moronic in-bred bottom-feeder. Kiss my ass once and for all.
He makes a good point.
The bias on here to hopefully see something (anything) bad happen to Clemson University is friggin’ amazing.
He makes a good point? Making the disgusting accusation that parents who just buried their only child are seeking to make money off his death? The parents know they cannot count on law enforcement to provide answers, so they have filed a major civil action — exactly what is called for in these circumstances. My own interest is seeing individuals held to account.
Those are your words not mine. Your “point” was that the family only filed the lawsuit to get answers. I merely asked if that was true, where did the price tag come from?
Such an intellectual response.
The family wants a pound of flesh from Clemson and the frat because their son’s death was probably caused by a Clemson fraternity. They’re not greedy. That sort of base motivation is typical of CNSYD’s feeble thinking, but is not universal.
Well then they should have included the Corp of Engineers and the SCHD to ensure all parties directly and remotely in the vicinity give their pound. Take off your garnet glasses and realize that the case is about money as most civil suits are. If you had ever sat in a mediation room where lawyers and insurance companies collude to settle a case you would quickly learn that. Pain and suffering are not discussed because they don’t care. They just want a number that the plaintiff’s lawyer thinks he can sell to his client.
You might be surprised by how many kids own large trust funds from granddaddy. Also, I do believe parents can be held liable.
Trust funds? Seriously?
And how could the parents be held liable?
At the very least involuntary manslaughter.
I’m not sure what the point of this lawsuit is. In SC, winning a civil lawsuit is it’s only reward. If the kid has nothing, and he probably doesn’t, there’s nothing to get. Wage garnishment can”t happen except for income taxes and child support.
BTW..this doesn’t have to have any bearing whatsoever on a criminal case, and many times, is even inadmissible as “evidence” of the defendant being guilty.
Probably to get answers. To force people to testify under oath. Do discovery. Obtain records. Dig around. And I am sure the fraternity has assets and Clemson can pay some money, though limited under the tort claims act.
Perhaps you should read the statement today by the 10th circuit solicitor. Also you will learn that SLED has also investigated.
There have been many successful civil cases prosecuted against fraternities, individuals and yes, Universities, for injuries to students caused by hazing. The administration knows it is happening and thinks they can get away with banning it in a policy and then turning a blind eye – WRONG. The kids involved have families who can pay large judgments – and the national fraternities and local chapters have both assets and lots of insurance coverage. This case will be settled at some point for big money.
But that’s not the best part. The assholes who actually did this and lied about it are going to JAIL – yes, that’s right – no more Football, no more Cripsmus parties, no more new trucks bought by daddy, no more Tiger Burn, no more beer pong and banging chicks and vomiting up cheap beer and stolen liquor and adderol. And these sniveling cowards will rat out the administration, who will also lose their jobs and maybe do some jail time as well.
All of you fuckers should be more nervous than a tweeker without his meth. Say your prayers boys, it ain’t Animal House fun when someone dies as a result of being dangled by their ankles off a bridge.
“Thank you, Sir, may I have another.”
“If I were you, I would begin drinking heavily.”
haha i hope so but honestly where is the evidence where is the solid delivery of murder here or recklessness at best.There won’t be any charges but a settlement at best.That democrats useless son is a free man.
The cowards who have information about this young man’s death absolutely need to come forward with the truth. The parents deserve to know what happened to their son. Someone needs to step up and be a man.
I hope the Hipps family find some answers as well as solace. My heart breaks for what they are going through.