The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday it had conducted 50 interviews related to the death of Tucker Hipps.
The 19-year-old Clemson student was found dead underneath two bridges over Lake Hartwell on Monday. The Oconee County Coroner’s Office said Hipps died from head injuries, likely due to a fall from the bridge.
Sheriff’s office investigators now say they’ve learned Hipps was among 30 people taking part in a fraternity pledge run around 5:30 a.m. that morning. Authorities are saying that Hipps dropped behind during the run and none of his fellow fraternity brothers or pledges saw him fall. Clemson said the fraternity called campus police after Hipp did not return from the run that morning.
“Given the fact that it is an ongoing investigation, certainly we do know the reasons why (Hipps fell behind),” Sheriff’s Office spokesman Jimmy Watt said. “But because of the investigation, we’re not going to release that at this time.”
The Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity has come under increased public scrutiny after Hipps’ body was found, with some students even claiming on social media that hazing caused his death. However, Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw said Tuesday there was “no indication” that “hazing played any part” in the death.
But Clemson did suspend all fraternity initiation activities on Tuesday night, citing Hipps’ death and several other incidents of criminal activity ranging from underage drinking to sexual assault.
Hipps was a sophomore at the school, having transferred to Clemson this semester from a bridge program at Tri-County Technical College.