Following the death of a University at Buffalo freshman at an off-campus fraternity house, News 4 has learned two other incidents have happened at Sigma Pi chapters across the country, including the death of another student last fall.
Just six months ago, freshman Collin Wiant died at Ohio University’s Sigma Pi house.
Also last November, the Sigma Pi chapter at University of Colorado Boulder was forced to cease operations after young women claimed they were drugged at the house. That case was dropped due to lack of proof.
The national fraternity wouldn’t comment on these other two incidents, saying instead, “our focus right now is on the well-being of those impacted by Sebastian’s passing.”
Preliminary toxicology results show 18-year-old Sebastian Serafin-Bazan had no drugs or alcohol in his system following an incident at UB’s Sigma Pi house that ultimately led to his death. Law enforcement is looking into if he was forced to exercise until he went into cardiac arrest and are calling it a suspected hazing case.
“New York has anti-hazing laws. However, they’re misdemeanors. There are not felony hazing laws as of yet,” said defense attorney Thomas Eoannou.
Eoannou is not involved in this case. He provided explanations of what it would take for anyone to be charged with a crime related to Serafin-Bazan’s death.
Serafin-Bazan may have had a previous respiratory condition, and whether or not those found responsible knew the alleged activities were putting Serafin-Bazan at risk would determine if anyone is charged with criminally negligent homicide, a felony.
Eoannou anticipates this case will have to rely heavily on witness testimony.
“It’s going to be fact-based. It’s not your typical case where somewhere dies of alcohol or drugs. This is a case where if they knew that, and they failed to perceive a risk – that this continuing physical conduct could cause a death – then they would be guilty of criminally negligent homicide,” he said.
In Ohio, lawyer Rex Elliott is fighting for Collin Wiant’s parents.
Wiant, an 18-year old freshman last fall, died at Ohio University’s Sigma Pi house due to ingesting nitrous oxide.
The Sigma Pi national fraternity has denied wrongdoing in that case.
“This is obviously a systemic problem within this particular fraternity. We believe that the problem starts at the top, and these kids, 18-22 year old kids, are dealing with a culture created for them,” said Elliott. “We are coming after the national fraternity and the local fraternity chapter.”
When asked for comment on the other incidents, Sigma Pi says its focusing on those affected by Serafin-Bazan’s passing in Buffalo.
A new statement from Sigma Pi says the fraternity is enhancing its health and education initiatives and establishing a revised alcohol policy. Read the full statement below:
“Sigma Pi takes health and safety of our members and guests very seriously and deplores hazing. Not only do we provide education and consultation on adhering to our policies via our leadership conferences and staff and volunteer presentations, but the Fraternity is also adding staff to enhance our education and programming initiatives, utilizing health and safety modules for our undergraduate members and volunteers, and establishing a revised alcohol policy that bans hard alcohol from our premises.”
Elliott says he’ll be arguing that circumstances were similar at both Ohio University and University at Buffalo.
“The Buffalo case will be a big part of our investigation as well,” he said.
Buffalo police are still investigating what happened.