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Police Investigate Possible Hazing Link to Traffic Death

April 3, 1992

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) _ Police are investigating whether hazing contributed to the traffic death of a University of Virginia student who apparently fell asleep at the wheel.

Gregory R. Batipps had been deprived of sleep while pledging for the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, his roommate, Todd Couts, said Friday.

Batipps, 20, was driving north on U.S. 29 early Tuesday morning when his car veered off the road, across the median and hit a concrete culvert, police said.

Batipps, a student reporter and volunteer tutor for high school students, appeared to have fallen asleep at the wheel, state police said. He was thrown 40 feet from the vehicle.

Sgt. James Bond said county police were investigating the hazing allegation. University police Lt. Bill Morris said the school administration asked campus police to investigate allegations of hazing, the first hazing investigation he could recall in 18 years.

No warrants had been issued as of Friday, he said.

Hazing that causes bodily harm to a student is illegal under state law. It carries a 12-month jail sentence and a $2,500 fine.

Couts said Batipps had been coming in at 3 a.m. and leaving at 7:30 a.m. because he was busy with fraternity pledge activities as well as classes. Pledges were not allowed to drive, he said.

″Obviously Greg didn’t follow that,″ Couts said. ″Ever since I’ve known him, when he was upset, he walked, then biked, then drove his car.″

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