NEW DETAILS EMERGE IN DEATH OF 19-YEAR-OLD CLEMSON STUDENT
According to court documents obtained by the network, a new witness has come forward with information related to the death of the 19-year-old Clemson University student. Hipps died of blunt force trauma to the head eleven months ago following an “unsupported fall” from a bridge near campus.
The incident occurred at around 5:00 a.m. EDT on September 22 during a “fitness event” organized by the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity at Clemson. Hipps’ fraternity brothers claimed he fell behind during their early morning run – and they didn’t report him as missing until 2:00 p.m. that afternoon.
Sensing a cover-up, Hipps’ parents have filed a lawsuit against Clemson, Sigma Phi Epsilon and three of Hipps’ fraternity brothers –Thomas Carter King, Campbell T. Staff and Samuel Quillen Carney. Carney – who is accused of organizing the event – is the son of U.S. Rep. John Carney, a three-term congressman from Delaware.
According to the suit, Hipps was ordered by a Sigma Phi Epsilon leader to purchase thirty McDonald’s biscuits, thirty hash browns and two gallons of chocolate milk for his fraternity brothers. When he said he didn’t have the money, a “confrontation” ensued – with the end result being Hipps “unsupported fall” from the bridge.
The suit also alleges Hipps’ “brothers” lied about their knowledge of his death – and attempted to cover it up.
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. He later texted his “brothers” to inform them of this fabrication, telling them the deception would help them “buy some time.”
Hipps’ brothers didn’t report him as missing for seven hours.
Some “brothers,” huh?
Clemson, Sigma Phi Epsilon and the three individual defendants have all disputed the lawsuit’s allegations – claiming Hipps is to blame for his own death. Citing “negligence” on his part, they’ve asked for the suit to be dismissed.
While awaiting a ruling, though, an amended suit has been filed – one containing a firsthand account of Hipps’ death from an unnamed witness.
According to the witness, three members of Sigma Phi Epsilon “forced Tucker to get onto the narrow railing along the bridge and walk some distance of the bridge on top of the railing.”
“Tucker slipped from the railing and caught the railing under his arms …. tried to climb back onto the bridge unassisted … lost his grip on the bridge and fell headfirst into the water below, striking his head on the rocks in the shallow water,” the witness’ account continued.
The amended suit alleges one of Hipps’ “brothers” attempted to locate him in the waters below using a light from a cell phone – but that no attempt was made to rescue him.
FITS was the first outlet to suggest fraternity hazing played a role in Hipps’ death. We were also the first outlet to report on how Hipps might have met his untimely end on the bridge that morning.
Original reports from sources close to the situation indicated Hipps might have been dropped from the bridge – with one source saying his fall appeared to have occurred as a result of being dangled by his ankles over the bridge’s railing.
Our reports sparked a firestorm of controversy at the school – and 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.”
Sigma Phi Epsilon also disputed our initial reports, saying there was “no evidence” hazing played a role in Hipps’ death.