By Justin Paprocki and Alan Brody
COLLEGE PARK — A University of Maryland student died Wednesday morning – in the middle of the Greek system’s rush period – after he was found outside his fraternity house, according to Prince George’s County Police, which will lead the investigation into the cause.
The victim is a 20-year-old transfer student, police said, and other sources said he was from Hicksville, N.Y. His identity was withheld pending notification of his family.
Another student called police after finding the man lying on the porch of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity at about 8 a.m. Wednesday, said Gary Corso, Prince George’s County Police commander of the Criminal Investigation Unit.
Emergency personnel took the student to Washington Adventist Hospital where he was pronounced dead, Corso said. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore will perform an autopsy, he said.
Prince George’s County Police are conducting a “death investigation,” but Corso declined to speculate on the cause of death. He said police are interviewing other students about what the College Park junior was doing before his death.
Rush is the semi-annual recruitment period for Greek organizations on campus.
Police would not discuss whether alcohol or drugs are suspected in the death or whether there were any marks on the body.
University Police Chief Ken Krouse said his officers are assisting Prince George’s Police in the investigation.
Students and administrators said they are confused and saddened by the death. They spoke at a news conference in the front yard of the fraternity house, which was blocked off by yellow caution tape. A crowd of students and media representatives gathered to listen.
University of Maryland President Clayton D. Mote Jr. said, “This is a grave day. It is the university’s greatest nightmare – the death of a student.”
The Student Government Administration plans on taking preventative actions to ensure another incident does not occur, said SGA president Angela Lagdameo.
“The SGA will be working vigorously to ensure students safety,” said Lagdameo. “Students are concerned. We are just waiting to get more information.”
The death follows four robberies that have occurred on or near campus within the past week. Police said they did not know if the incidents are related to Wednesday’s death.
“I don’t feel safe,” said Sahil Rajan, 20, a junior computer science major. After arriving home at 2 a.m. Wednesday, Rajan said he felt anxious to get back to his apartment during the 15-minute walk from the parking lot. “It was the first time I kind of ran back from my car.”
The death was the third time in five years that tragedy has struck the Greek community at Maryland.
In 1999, a Sigma Alpha Mu pledge was killed in an automobile accident during a road trip to New Orleans. Alcohol was not a factor in the death.
In April 1997, junior Donald Castleberry was found dead in his fraternity house bedroom.
Castleberry, 21, was a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity, located next door to Sigma Alpha Epsilon. An autopsy found Castleberry died from complications related to a rare heart defect.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon gained nationwide coverage in August 1997 when 20- year-old Benjamin Wynne, a student and SAE pledge at Louisiana State University, died of acute alcohol intoxication, caused by excessive drinking at a fraternity event in which several others were taken to the hospital for extreme intoxication.
“The chapter is working closely with the university and local police, as well as with our national office,” said Christopher Mundy, communications director for Sigma Alpha Epsilon. “We also have a regional representative in the area who is monitoring the progress, while we wait for more information.”
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