The parents of a Clemson student who investigators believe died after falling off a bridge last September have now filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the fraternity he was pledging at the time. The suit, which gives a very different narrative than the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office report, claims other frat members were not only present at the time but later tried to cover up their actions that morning.
The lawsuit seeking $25 million in damages names three members of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity as defendants, but South Carolina Radio Network has decided not to repost them due to the seriousness of the accusations and lack of criminal charges at this time. SPE has since been suspended by Clemson officials.
“Tucker Hipps’s death was a senseless and avoidable tragedy. The culture of hazing and inappropriate conduct by social fraternities must be stopped,” Cynthia and Gary Hipps said in a statement released through their attorney. “Universities and fraternities must make change from within to protect their own.”
The three individuals are accused of organizing a pledge run in the early morning hours of September 22. Prior to that run, Hipps — the pledge class president who often acted as liaison between the new and old members– had been told by a fraternity brother to buy 30 biscuits, hash browns, and 2 gallons of milk before the run, the lawsuit stated. Pledges at SPE were often expected to run errands at any hour of the day on behalf of upperclassmen and the fraternity as part of their initiation. The suit claimed Hipps told the brother he did not have the money to buy that much food and was told to raise what he needed from fellow pledges.