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Hundreds Attend Freshman’s Funeral

October 5, 1997

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) _ Five days after dying at a Boston hospital from severe alcohol poisoning, college freshman Scott Krueger was laid to rest Saturday in a private ceremony attended by hundreds.

Mourners filed into St. John’s Lutheran Church in this Buffalo suburb to remember the boy whose death has sparked national debate over alcohol on colleges and universities.

``Never again can a young man or woman go off to college as a scholar and come home in a box,″ said the Rev. Dennis Conrad told The Buffalo News after the ceremony. The media was barred from the church, and hovered across the four-lane boulevard.

The Krueger family asked reporters not to quote anything said during the funeral, but Conrad, a close family friend, read portions of his sermon during an interview afterward.

Krueger, a freshman at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, died Sept. 30. Two days earlier, he had been taken to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in a coma after he was found in his basement room at the Phi Gamma Delta house, surrounded by vomit and empty liquor bottles.

At Krueger’s funeral service, church members set up television screens in the basement for those who weren’t able to find a seat in the pews. Police estimated nearly 600 people attended the service, including a bus-load of people from Boston.

Some who attended the service said they hope Krueger’s death, and recent events on the MIT campus, will prompt colleges and universities to take strong action to prevent underage drinking.

MIT suspended the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. One of 12 Phi Gamma Delta pledges, Krueger had lived in the house slightly less than a month. About 40 people live in the house.

``I hope it makes kids think more about it, too,″ 13-year-old Norm Marshall Jr. said. ``It’s the only good thing that could come out of this.″

Conrad grew angry as he talked about the senseless nature of Krueger’s death.

``Scott didn’t have to die in vain. Our mission needs to be ending these alcohol tragedies on campuses,″ Conrad said. ``Scott was killed by a system that is supposed to educate but which also funnels young freshmen into fraternities, which build brotherhood and manhood partially by the consumption of alcohol.″

Conrad said the Krueger family is riding an emotional roller coaster.

``There’s a lot of anger at the system and at the news media. They’re drawing strength from each other and from the Lord,″ he said.

Friends recalled Krueger as a funny and hard-working young man who always found time to help others with their problems. They said he loved mathematics and was among the brightest math students to graduate from Orchard Park High School in recent years. He was also a student leader and an athlete who won letters in wrestling, soccer and lacrosse.

Following the service, mourners escorted the hearse carrying Krueger’s body to Woodlawn Cemetery on foot, walking about a mile down the tree-line street in a makeshift procession led by Krueger’s family.

Krueger’s mother, Darlene, said the family is not giving interviews because ``we’re just too horrified right now.″

In an earlier interview, Mrs. Krueger said hospital physicians pumped charcoal into her son’s stomach to soak up the potentially fatal amount of alcohol in his system.

``They told me it was a party where little (fraternity) brothers were paired off with big brothers,″ Mrs. Krueger said. ``The freshmen had to drink a certain amount of alcohol collectively.″

Krueger’s parents said their son’s blood alcohol level had reached .410 percent _ five times the legal limit for drivers in Massachusetts.

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