Two Drake University students are charged with hazing in connection with the alcohol poisoning of another student. Des Moines Police Sergeant Lori Lavorato says 20-year-old Skylar Otto and 19-year-old Joseph Hatchett are accused in the weekend incident that landed a 19-year-old freshman in the hospital.
“The student felt that there was a requirement to attend this function and he thought that it was a requirement to drink this alcohol,” Lavorato said. “With those statements, (Des Moines Police) and the Polk County Attorney’s office felt there was enough to go ahead with the charge of hazing, which is a serious misdemeanor.”
According to police, the act of hazing involves a person intentionally or recklessly forcing an activity which endangers the physical health or safety of a student for the purpose of initiation or admission i
nto an organization connected with a school, college or university. The student who was hospitalized, Nathan Erickson of Durant, was a new member of Phi Delta Theta.
Three members of Phi Delta Theta have been suspended from the fraternity in connection with the incident. Their names have not been released. Lavorato says Erickson was drinking at a residence located near the fraternity house. She says it was a small party involving only a handful of people.
The police report shows Erickson’s blood-alcohol level was nearly .50 – almost six times the legal limit – when he arrived at the hospital on Sunday. “People do die of alcohol poisoning when it gets to that level,” Lavorato said. “He was hospitalized and thankfully someone did call 9-1-1 to get him there. Fortunately for him and his family, he has recovered and is out of the hospital. In normal cases, that’s usually not the case.”
Officials at Drake University and Des Moines Police continue to investigate the matter. Lavorato says more charges could be filed.
“Right now, we’re looking into where the alcohol came from and where the alcohol was purchased,” Lavorato said. Erickson’s mother told police she received a text message from her son stating he had been forced to drink several shots of Everclear.