Police Thursday arrested five Chi Tau fraternity members who prosecutors said were involved in a sadistic hazing ritual at California State University Chico that led to a young man’s death last month. Three other fraternity members are being sought in the crime, which has so horrified the town that the university president said he may abolish fraternies. Four of the suspects face charges of involuntary manslaughter, a felony that carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison.
The events leading to the death of fraternity pledge Matthew Carrington, 21, began when he was walked into was the cold, dank cellar of the Chi Tau fraternity house. For five hours Carrington and another pledge were allegedly humiliated and doused with gallons of cold water in the basement while being blasted with ice-cold air from giant fans. They were made to do calisthenics while standing on one foot atop a bench. Denied use of a bathroom, they had to request permission to wet themselves. Through it all, prosecutors said, fraternity members forced Carrington to drink gallon after gallon of water until Carrington collapsed as hypothermia set in and his brain stem swelled from the water intoxication that killed him.