Wrongful death lawsuit filed against Ohio University fraternity

Local News

ATHENS (WCMH) – The family of an Ohio University student who died in a fraternity house back in November 2018 is now suing the fraternity and its international headquarters. 

18-year-old Collin Lewis Wiant died on November 12, 2018. A toxicology report shows that Wiant died of asphyxiation due to nitrous oxide ingestion. At the time of his death, Wiant was a pledge of the Epsilon Chapter of Sigma Pi at Ohio University in Athens. 

A wrongful death lawsuit, filed February 14, 2019, says that Wiant’s death was caused “extensive hazing” by fraternity members who provided and forced drugs on him, beat him with a belt, punched him, pelted with eggs as well as provided and forced to drink a gallon of alcohol in an hour. 

The lawsuit states that the majority of the hazing took place inside what is known as the “Fun Room” or “Education Room” at the unofficial annex house of the Epsilon Chapter located several blocks away from campus. 

On the day of Wiant’s death, November 12th, 2018, Wiant was seen shortly after midnight going into Crystal Bar, a hangout spot for college students in Athens. Witnesses who saw Wiant described him as acting normal. Around the same time. A Sigma Pi fraternity member told Wiant to go over to the fraternity’s house. Wiant was heard saying, “I know I’m going to get hazed.”

At around 2:50 a.m., a member of the fraternity called 911. The caller told the dispatcher that Wiant was unresponsive inside the fraternity house. The caller said he wanted to bring Wiant outside, but the 911 dispatcher told him to leave Wiant where he was. 

Wiant died inside the Sigma Pi fraternity house shortly after that 911 call was made. His body was found around drug paraphernalia, including canisters of nitrous oxide. 

The illegal drugs containing nitrous oxide that caused Wiant’s death was provided and forced on Wiant by members of the Sigma Pi fraternity. 

Following Wiant’s death, the Ohio University director of the Office of Community Standards and Student Responsibility sent a cease and desist order to the fraternity’s president. Since the filing of this wrongful death lawsuit, the university sent this statement to NBC 4 saying:

This is a very sad situation, and our hearts go out to Collin’s family and friends who have been impacted by this tragic loss. The Epsilon chapter of the Sigma Pi fraternity remains on a cease and desist order from the University, pending investigation.

Sigma Pi International is listed on the lawsuit, NBC 4 reached out to the organization and received this statement from Jonathan Frost, the Executive Director and CEO:

We are aware of the tragic passing of Collin Wiant this past November and we continue to extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends. To my knowledge, Sigma Pi International has not been served with a lawsuit involving Mr. Wiant, so we are not able to comment. If we are served with a lawsuit, our attorneys will review and determine the appropriate response.

Read the full lawsuit below:

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