Parents of Hazing Victims Are Trying to Curb Deaths Through Sharing Their Stories

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Inside Edition has spoken to the families of seven young men who were hurt or killed in hazing incidents.

Surveillance video from the night Mary Pat and Tom Santulli’s son Danny was injured shows a rare look at an alcohol-fueled hazing event known as “big brother night”Oder “pledge dad reveal night”This is a common practice in fraternities all over the country.

“They were all told that they had to go down to the basement. I think they were all blind-folded,”Mary Pat spoke to Inside Edition. She said that Danny had a liter worth of vodka taped to the back of his hand.

Cops say Danny’s “pledge dad” pressured him to drink the equivalent of 20 shots, plus a full beer bong. Later, he suffered from alcohol poisoning and went into cardiac arrest. In the surveillance video shared by the family’s attorney, David BianchiDanny can be seen falling to the ground. Later, he fell off a couch onto himself. 

“They don’t know what to do. They’re afraid to call 911, so they don’t. And they pick him up, they drop him on his head. Surveillance video, you would think, would incentivize these guys not to do this stuff, but they do it anyway,” Bianchi said.

Danny Santulli was permanently brain damaged and is now using a wheelchair.

“Danny is the most horribly injured fraternity pledge ever in the United States. He’s blind, cannot speak,” Bianchi said.

Jack and Wendy Abele said that Ryan, their son, went through the same frat hazing ritual at University of Nevada Reno.

“It was a ‘big brother reveal night,’ where each of 30 pledges were handed a bottle of booze — a full 750-milliliter bottle of alcohol. In Ryan’s case, it was 100-proof, and they were expected to drink the bottle. The goal was also to get them all drunk and vomiting,” Jack Abele said.

Ryan Abele was later intoxicated and died after falling down a flight staircase.

Timothy Piazza, the son of Evelyn and Jim Piazza, also died from falling down stairs. They claim he was instructed to drink 18 shots in just 82 minutes while pledging a fraternity at Penn State University. 

“It’s different from the hazing of 20 or 30 years ago. It’s more than just swallowing and streaking goldfish. It is hard alcohol. Deadly, hard alcohol,” Evelyn Piazza said.

According to the Piazzas, Timothy was not reached by 911 for help until 12 hours after fraternity brothers called them.

Published reports indicate that close to 80 college students have died from hazing related to Greek life over the past 15 year. The vast majority of these deaths were due to alcohol abuse. 

Last year, Adam Oakes, a freshman from Texas, was poisoned by alcohol. “big brother”He was forced to consume a full bottle of alcohol in a matter of minutes. As part of a plea agreement, several former members of the now-banned fraternity are speaking out publicly about what happened to Oakes.

“I was charged with misdemeanor hazing, and I think that was an accurate charge on my part, I think. Being the president of the fraternity, I had this position of power, and I chose the wrong path and the wrong road,”One ex-member stated.

Video of the talk will be part of a hazing docuseries called “Protect This House.”

Many parents of hazing victims now travel the country, speaking to pledges and students and urging them to report hazing incidents. 

Tyler Perino is one among the few who reported a hazing incident on Miami University after he claims that his fraternity brothers hazed and paddled him at his house repeatedly with a 6-pack and a bottle whiskey. “big brother night.”

“I was taken out on a stretcher from my dorm to the ambulance and then taken to the hospital,” Perino said. His blood-alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit.

“It was the worst nightmare come true. We obviously are very lucky that he’s still here with us,” Perino’s mom, Laura, said.

Laura and Tyler Perino, and the parents who spoke to Inside Edition, want pledges to know that it’s OK to say “no”Walk away. They also want to know that they will not hesitate to call 911 if anything goes wrong.

In Danny Santulli’s case, no one called 911, his lawyer says. David Bianchi believes so. “Andrew’s Law”Florida should become a model for the rest of the country. Named after an alcohol-related death, the law was passed in Florida.

“[The law] says that if you are the first person to call 911 after a hazing event, where somebody’s in trouble. Even if you’re the person that did the hazing, even if you’re the one who handed him the bottle of alcohol — if you’re the first one to call 911 to try to save his life or if you’re administering CPR, trying to help him while help is on the way, you will not be prosecuted. You will have immunity,” Bianchi said.

Inside Edition spoke with parents who stated that their goal was to raise awareness about the terrible consequences of fraternity-hazing.

“My goal, and many of us parents — our goal — is to speak to college students, to high school students, so that we can raise awareness. We do not want any other families in what is in this club of parents, who have, frankly, lost their child senselessly to hazing. We want to make a difference, we want to educate and we want to make sure this never happens again,”Lianne Kowiak stated. 

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