The mother of an East Carolina University student who died in a single-car wreck at the end of a sorority “Hell Week” has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Delta Sigma Theta sorority. The victim’s mother claims that “hazing” played a significant role in the fatal incident.
The Raleigh resident has accused the sorority’s national officials, it’s East Carolina University chapter, and members there of depriving the 2010 pledges of sleep and forcing them to engage in demeaning activities, such as harsh work-outs, dressing alike, and staying up all night, which she claims led to the 2010 fatal car accident.
Carter, 20, was one of two East Carolina University students who died on November 20, 2010, when the car they were traveling in careened off a road and then slammed into a tree.
Another sorority pledge was driving the Toyota Yaris at 6:30 a.m. The Delta Sigma Theta big sisters had selected this pledge member as the designated driver who would shuttle the pledges to practices, according to the mother’s lawsuit.
Carter was in the back seat on the right side of the car accident, and was pronounced dead at the scene. The following day, a 20 year-old sorority pledge, also riding in the car, died.
The driver, who pleaded guilty last year to two counts of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle, was suffering from “excessive and overwhelming fatigue, exhaustion, and sleep deprivation,” according to the lawsuit, and “fell asleep behind the wheel.”
Initially, the lawsuit only named the driver of the car, but she later amended it to include the sorority and about two-dozen East Carolina University members. She is looking for answers.
According to the lawsuit, members of the sorority tried to conceal their pledging activities by deleting text messages, erasing emails, and threatening pledges. The University conducted an investigation, but sorority members remained quiet about the details. The chapter was placed on probation for two years.
Although Carter explained that suing Delta Sigma Theta will not bring her daughter back, she hopes her daughter’s death will not be in vain.
Obviously, no amount of money can bring their daughter back, but they claim they are trying to change the culture of sorority hazing.
Delta Sigma Theta was founded in 1913 at Howard University. Like the other black Greek organizations, Delta Sigma Theta has an anti-hazing policy, but also like the other organizations, many of its members continue to engage in the practice. Although many colleges and universities have instituted stricter rules and regulations to counter the effect of hazing, some organizations conduct in the activities anyway.
Delta Sigma Theta has suspended the chapter at East Carolina University until at least 2015, while they continue to conduct an internal investigation.
For more information, contact a Gacovino Lake attorney at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).