UC Riverside College Student Tyler Hilliard Died While Pledging To Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity
RIVERSIDE, CALIFORNIA (September 20, 2018) – A 20-year-old UC Riverside student identified as Tyler Hilliard has tragically died in an accident after pledging to his fraternity.
The family of the victim believes that hazing may have been involved in the accident. Tyler Hilliard’s aunt came across messages on his cellphone that referred to hazing activities that were going on for weeks.
Alpha Phi Alpha prohibits pledging and hazing of any kind and the executive director launched an investigation into the death.
Tyler Hilliard’s family says they want to get to the bottom of what happened and demand justice for their son. UC Riverside is also working with investigators in order to determine the cause of the student’s death.
Police are investigating autopsy reports and are currently calling the death “suspicious.” A Go Fund Me page has been created to help with funeral expenses.
Hazing Statistics and Prevention
An estimated 1.5 million high school students are involved in hazings each year and 47% of students entering college have experienced some form of hazing. Hazing can come in a variety of different forms and may include:
- Alcohol consumption
- Sleep deprivation
- Sexual acts
- Forced food consumption
- Paddling or whipping
Unfortunately, nearly 95% of students involved in hazing incidents do not end up reporting their experienced to campus officials. Though hazing can come in many different forms, alcohol is involved in a disproportionate number of hazing deaths. It has been estimated that nearly 82% of hazing deaths involved alcohol consumption. There are a number of steps that can be taken to help reduce incidents like this.
- Speak Out: The vast majority of hazing incidents are never reported. Accordingly, many universities are not aware of the scope of the problem.
- Anti-Hazing Policies: Fraternities can help reduce incidents of hazing by developing and distributing an outline of non-acceptable activities and behaviors. Sanctions can then be used against members that violate the policies.
- Traditions: Hazing is often a tradition at many universities and in many fraternities. Be willing to alter those traditions and replace them with alternatives that aren’t dangerous.
When a student dies or is injured in a hazing incident there are multiple entities that may be responsible for what happened.
Liability In Fraternity Hazing Injuries and Deaths
Hazing is both a criminal offense and may result in civil liability under California Penal Code 245.6. Fraternity students or others than engage in hazing may face civil liability for any role that they played. The statute also holds institutions (i.e., high schools, universities and fraternities) accountable for their role. According to the statute, “(e) The person against whom the hazing is directed may commence a civil action for injury or damages. The action may be brought against any participants in the hazing, or any organization to which the student is seeking membership whose agents, directors, trustees, managers, or officers authorized, requested, commanded, participated in, or ratified the hazing.”
In other words, a student that as injured may be able to not only file claims against the students responsible but also any institutions that knew about the hazing and failed to prevent it. Common law concepts of negligence may also apply beyond what is outlined in the statute. If the hazing took place at a business like a bar or club victims may also have the ability to file premises liability claims. Those who suffered a loss may be able to recover for lost wages, medical bills and pain and suffering.
Getting Help After A Fraternity Hazing Incident
We at West Coast Trial Lawyers extend our deepest sympathies to the family of Tyler Hilliard. We also encourage everyone to donate to the Go Fund Me page that has been set up to give him a proper funeral. Tyler was a bright young man who had a promising future ahead of him. No parent should ever have to bury their own child at such a young age. It’s just not right. Anyone that may have knowledge about what happened should reach out to investigators for the sake of the family. This should be a wake up call for the University. Steps need to be taken to help protect students from hazing.
If someone that you love has been injured or died in a fraternity hazing incident there are laws designed to protect your rights. You may have legal recourse. Our team of expert and compassionate personal injury lawyers are here to help in any way that we can and get you the justice that you deserve. We offer free consultations and are happy to let you know what your rights are. Whether you just have questions about your rights or are seeking legal counsel for your particular situation we are here for you (888) 888-9285.
KCAL Staff. Student Pledging UC Riverside Fraternity Dies. September 17, 2018
Kerri Mumford. Who Is Responsible for Fraternity Related Injuries on American College Campuses? Journal of Contemporary Health Law & Policy. 2001
Colin Schlank. A Fraternity Brother Speaks Out. 2018
University of Dayton Staff. Hazing Statistics. 2018
University of Rochester Staff. Hazing Prevention. 2018