Coroner: High blood alcohol level found in dead LSU student
By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN
Sep. 15, 2017
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Hospital tests found a "highly elevated" blood alcohol level in the body of a Louisiana State University student whose death police are investigating as a possible result of fraternity hazing, a coroner said Friday.
Preliminary autopsy results Friday found no internal or external trauma, but did find "marked cerebral and pulmonary edema," or swelling in the brain and lungs of 18-year-old Maxwell Raymond Gruver. Hospital blood and urine tests also detected the presence of marijuana, according to a statement from East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Beau Clark's office.
The freshman from Roswell, Georgia, who was being considered for membership in the Phi Delta Theta fraternity, died Thursday after being treated at a Baton Rouge hospital for an unspecified "medical emergency," university spokesman Ernie Ballard said.
Clark's office said final autopsy results are pending toxicology and histological testing that could take up to four weeks to complete.
"The death of Maxwell Gruver was tragic and untimely," said LSU President F. King Alexander, who offered his "deepest sympathies and prayers" to the student's family and friends.
"As we have continually warned over and over again, hazing is dangerous, irresponsible and unacceptable, and it will not be tolerated at LSU. Period," Alexander said.
The Phi Delta Theta house has been suspended by the university and its national chapter, and "all Greek activities" have been suspended as well, pending the outcome of the LSU police investigation, Alexander said.
Alexander said police are investigating allegations that alcohol was a factor in Gruver's death, and said he wasn't aware of any immediate arrests.
East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore said LSU police have interviewed many fraternity members, but some have refused to give a statement and are hiring lawyers. Moore urged anyone with information about the incident, including cellphone videos or social media messages, to contact police.
A statement on the national fraternity's website called the death of the "prospective member" heartbreaking. Disciplinary action will be decided once the investigation is complete, it said.
"We're committed to investigating this situation thoroughly. The chapter and any individuals who are found to have violated our policies will be held accountable," Phi Delta Theta Executive Vice President and CEO Bob Biggs said.
A statement issued Friday by LSU and the district attorney said Gruver's parents didn't want to be contacted by reporters or make a public statement about their son's death.
"Please respect their privacy at this time and please give them time to grieve. This is a difficult time for everyone involved," the statement said.