DUBLIN, Ohio (WCMH) — Sigma Pi fraternity members have been charged in an Ohio University student’s death.
Freshman Collin Wiant, of Dublin, died after an alleged hazing incident in 2018.
Now, one year later, nine people have been indicted in connection to his death.
Wiant’s parents, Wade and Kathleen, said at one point, they didn’t think anyone was going to be charged with their son’s death. Now, they are working on forgiving those who were involved.
A year after Wiant was found dead in the Sigma Pi Epsilon fraternity annex house, nine people, including seven members, are charged in connection to his death.
“We don’t take any joy in anyone’s pain or misery or loss,” said Kathleen Wiant. “We know justice must be served and it will be served.”
Wiant was a pledge at the fraternity at Ohio University. A toxicology report showed he died of asphyxiation due to nitrous oxide ingestion.
Kathleen Wiant said she warned her son about hazing.
“In the summer before he went to college, I talked to Colin extensively about hazing,” she said. “That’s what I can’t get over.”
Most of the defendants face drug- or alcohol-related charges. Five are charged with misdemeanor hazing and two former students have been indicted for involuntary manslaughter and another for reckless homicide.
“It seemed like forever the investigation was open, but we held on to hope that there was a reason for that and obviously, there was,” said Wade Wiant.
However, Tuesday’s announcement isn’t bringing the family closure.
“I don’t think, emotionally, that’s ever going to happen,” Wade Wiant said. “We have a big piece of our life missing.”
Kathleen Wiant said even though a year has gone by, it feels like only a week.
“The aftermath has been awful, it’s been hell,” she said. “We’re all different. We’ll be different forever.”
Different, but stronger, and fighting for a change.
“We want to see more transparency in terms of what some of those fraternities in the past and past records are as far as hazing and other bad behaviors on campus,” Wade Wiant said. “Had we had knowledge of past instances of the Sigma Pi fraternity and things happened in the past, we could have told Colin that’s not an option for him.”
In the past, the fraternity has denied hazing allegations.
The university later expelled Sigma Pi for hazing, alcohol and drug use, and other violations.
As for the Wiants, they hope this will prevent hazing in the future.
“I think to college students, this sends a message to the magnitude of this and the consequences and how seriously this will be taken,” Kathleen Wiant said.
Kathleen Wiant said she now speaks at fraternity conventions and universities, has gone to Capitol Hill to lobby for an end to hazing act, and works with local legislators for a transparency act. The Wiants plan to continue their work until change is made.