Bowling Green State University student dies after alleged hazing incident left him on life support

Quinlan Bentley, Bethany Bruner and Patrick Cooley, The Columbus Dispatch
·7 min read
Stone Foltz, 20, is on life support after a hazing incident at Bowling Green State University. Foltz is a 2019 graduate of Buckeye Valley High School. His family says he is not expected to survive his injuries.
Stone Foltz, 20, is on life support after a hazing incident at Bowling Green State University. Foltz is a 2019 graduate of Buckeye Valley High School. His family says he is not expected to survive his injuries.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A Bowling Green State University student has died after an alleged hazing incident left him on life support. his family's attorney said.

Stone Foltz, 20, from Delaware County, Ohio, was hospitalized early Friday after an incident at the BGSU chapter of the Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity. BGSU officials have since stripped the fraternity of its status as a student organization this weekend following reports of the incident.

Sean Alto, an attorney representing the Foltz family, said Foltz was at an off-campus event organized by the fraternity where he was given "a copious amount of alcohol."

Foltz was dropped off that night at his apartment by members of the fraternity, where he was later found by his roommates, Alto said, adding that the roommates called 911 and Foltz was transported to a hospital where he was in "dire" condition.

Alto confirmed Sunday night that Foltz had died and in a written statement called the young man a "beloved son, brother, and grandson."

"The death of Stone Foltz is a tragedy. At this time we are gathering all of the facts leading to his untimely death and we have no interest in commenting on speculation," the statement said. "We do ask that you please show respect and consideration for Stone’s family. Despite their unbearable grief, they agreed to donate Stone’s organs so that others may have a second chance at life."

Workers removed the Greek letters from the fraternity's off-campus house Sunday morning, and Bowling Green police are investigating the events that led to Foltz's death.

More on hazing: Young men have died in fraternities every year for 2 decades, but frats are slow to change

"We are aware of the incident and we are currently investigating," Bowling Green police Lt. Dan Mancuso said. He would not provide further comment on the investigation.

A dispatcher said on Sunday afternoon that police had no new information to release. She confirmed that the Bowling Green city police, not the campus police, are investigating the incident.

A university spokesperson said the school was assisting police and conducting a parallel student code of conduct investigation.

Stone, a student athlete in high school, was "a beloved member" of the Buckeye Valley Local School District, Superintendent Andrew Miller said Sunday in a written statement.

"Stone was a friend to everyone who was blessed to know him," Miller said in the statement. "The Buckeye Valley community mourns the loss of this amazing young person and we stand ready to support the Foltz family in the days ahead. ”

Foltz's death comes just one week after a Virginia Commonwealth University chapter of the Delta Chi fraternity was suspended following a death linked to hazing.

Adam Oakes, 19, of Sterling, Virginia, was found dead in an off-campus house on Feb. 27 after he was blindfolded and given a large amount of alcohol, according to news reports.

Meanwhile, Ohio lawmakers are working to revive a bill that would stiffen penalties for students involved in such hazing rituals.

Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity suspended after hazing incident

BGSU issued a statement on Saturday saying the fraternity has been suspended.

"We are working with local law enforcement, who are actively taking the lead in investigating this unfolding situation," the statement said. "BGSU is committed to not just the student conduct and law enforcement investigations, but a full inquiry into each Greek chapter's prevention and compliance responsibilities under University policies prohibiting hazing."

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A university spokesman said the letters were removed from the Pi Kappa Alpha's off-campus residence Sunday morning because the fraternity chapter was no longer recognized as a registered student organization.

The Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity issued a statement saying it was "horrified and outraged" at the incident. The national organization said it suspended the chapter and instructed chapter leadership to cooperate with all investigations being conducted. The statement also said the organization will pursue permanent suspension of the chapter as new details are learned, as well as expulsion of all chapter members from the fraternity.

The statement said Foltz was an "unreported new member," more commonly known as a pledge.

Foltz graduated from Buckeye Valley High School in Delaware County in 2019.

His freshman-year roommate at Bowling Green, Duncan Faulk, said Foltz was known for his outgoing personality.

"Stone was one of the greatest friends I've ever had," he said.

Foltz had a reputation of being there for friends and family when they needed him, Faulk said.

"I know he will be missed, and this will be very hard on a lot of people," he said.

Stone Foltz, 20, is not expected to survive injuries he sustained during a hazing incident at Bowling Green State University. Foltz is a 2019 graduate of Buckeye Valley High School.
Stone Foltz, 20, is not expected to survive injuries he sustained during a hazing incident at Bowling Green State University. Foltz is a 2019 graduate of Buckeye Valley High School.

Bowling Green freshman Dylan Griev told the Toledo Blade he was shocked when he heard the news about Foltz.

"I know it's happened at other universities in the past, but I didn't think BG was that kind of university,” he said to the newspaper.

Griev said suspending the fraternity is an appropriate response, but added "I hope they do more."

"I think (the university is) taking their time to pick apart what's happened," he said. "I hope the punishment is appropriate to what's happened. I feel really bad for the kid and his family."

Morgan Nance, a junior and member of the coed service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega, told the Blade that she thinks the university is taking the matter seriously.

"I think (suspension is) the right way to go about it,” she said Sunday. "Obviously there's an issue with that organization and something needs to be done."

At least one online petition has been started, calling for the permanent removal of Pi Kappa Alpha from BGSU. Nearly 1,400 people had signed it by Sunday evening.

“As Bowling Green State University students, we refuse to stand behind the same people that would allow the loss of a beloved student on a campus organization’s off-campus housing,” the petition at change.org reads.

Another look at Collin's Law

Foltz's death comes months after a law designed to increase the potential criminal penalties for hazing stalled in the Ohio Senate.

Collin's Law was named for Collin Wiant, a freshman at Ohio University from Dublin, who died after collapsing on the floor of an unofficial, off-campus fraternity house on Nov. 12, 2018. A coroner ruled that Wiant died of asphyxiation due to nitrous oxide ingestion after he inhaled a canister of the gas, also known as a whippit.

Broken Pledge: The fraternity hazing and death of Ohio University freshman Collin Wiant

The law would have expanded the legal definition of hazing to include forced consumption of drugs and alcohol and would have increased the crime from a fourth-degree misdemeanor to a second-degree misdemeanor, with the potential of a felony if the offense involved drugs or alcohol.

Collin Wiant, an 18-year-old freshman from Dublin, died shortly after collapsing inside an annex house in Athens. A coroner ruled that Wiant died of asphyxiation due to nitrous oxide ingestion.
Collin Wiant, an 18-year-old freshman from Dublin, died shortly after collapsing inside an annex house in Athens. A coroner ruled that Wiant died of asphyxiation due to nitrous oxide ingestion.

State Sen. Stephanie Kunze, who was a proponent of the law, said she hasn't given up on it. "We're so close to reintroducing this bill," Kunze said Sunday.

Kunze said she kept working on the law after it stalled in the Senate Education Committee in December.

She said she has been working with legislators and organizations that represent schools to make sure the bill's language is clear, and she is in regular contact with Collin Wiant's family.

Former Rep. Dave Greenspan, who sponsored the house version of the bill, said the alleged Bowling Green hazing should make the bill's passage a priority.

"I talked to Sen. Kunze last night after I heard about the story at Bowling Green," he said. Greenspan said he is making himself available for discussions about the bill, even though he is no longer in the General Assembly.

Legislators expressed concerns over the severity of the penalties, he said. Forcing someone to consume alcohol or drugs would be punishable with prison time under Collin's Law.

If the bill would have been signed into law in December, Greenspan stressed, it would have been in place during the alleged weekend hazing.

Contributing: Eric Lagatta

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Bowling Green State University student Stone Foltz dies after hazing