Four Cal Poly students were arrested in connection to the death of Cal Poly freshmen Carson Starkey, who died last December due to alcohol poisoning while attending a Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity hazing ritual, according to police.
Agriculture business sophomore Haithem Ibrahim, 20, and agriculture business student Zacary Ellis, 22, were charged with felony violation of hazing causing death or great bodily injury and misdemeanor violation of furnishing alcohol to a minor causing death or great bodily injury.
Computer engineering student Russell Taylor, 22, was charged with misdemeanor violation of hazing causing death or great bodily injury and misdemeanor of permitting a minor to consume alcohol. Taylor currently sits on the Associated Students Inc. Board of Directors for the College of Engineering.
Agriculture business senior Adam Marszal, 21, faces the same charges as Taylor.
Starkey, 18, passed away the morning of Dec. 2, 2008 at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center. At 6:24 that morning, a 911 call was received from a house on Highland Drive where Starkey was subsequently found unresponsive. Following his death, investigators performed numerous interviews and conducted search warrants on nine separate locations, concluding that his death was the result of alcohol-related hazing at a Sigma Alpha Epsilon initiation party held at the house.
“It’s really difficult when any member of our campus community is involved in a situation like this,” ASI President Angela Kramer said. “It was a devastating tragedy to lose Carson Starkey, but (I think it was) no one’s direct fault; there’s no sign of malicious intent.
Discussing one of ASI’s board members being arrested in connection with hazing, she said, “It’s especially difficult because we don’t want to see him in this situation, but the fraternity (made) a bad decision that led to the death of a student. Our country has due process for a reason.”
She expressed her support for the greek community as a whole, saying this incident was not a reflection of its ideology.
Starkey’s autopsy had revealed that he suffered from respiratory arrest due to Acute Ethanol Toxicity, or alcohol poisoning. Starkey’s blood alcohol level ranged between .39 and .44 percent – a level exceeding the effects of surgical anesthesia.
This is a developing story. Continue checking back here for more information.
Previous coverage related to Carson Starkey’s death: