The story of the tragic death of Clemson student Tucker Hipps has been one of the most heart-wrenching stories we’ve had to cover this year.
The untimely death of a young, promising individual is never easy to report, especially when said death is shrouded in such controversy. For those hearing about this story for the first time, let me catch you up on whats happened so far:
Way back in February, Clemson University announced that it had suspended the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity following the death of student Tucker Hipps. Clemson began the investigation after 19-year-old Tucker Hipps–who had been pledging Sigma Phi Epsilon–had been found dead in Lake Hartwell.
Tucker’s family, who has since filed a $25 million dollar lawsuit against Clemson University, alleges that the 19-year-old died while on a 2014 pledge run and that his fraternity brothers tried to cover up the event. What can be confirmed is that Tucker’s body was found floating in Lake Hartwell, under the S.C. 93 bridge. An autopsy revealed that Tucker died of “blunt force trauma” consistent with a “downward headfirst falling injury.”
Almost 6 months later and new information about the situation is still being learned. CNN’s Sarah Ganim, who obtained newly filed court documents, found statements from an eye witness who said:
Tucker slipped from the railing and caught the railing under his arms… tried to climb back on to the bridge unassisted, lost his grip on the bridge and fell head-first into the water below, striking his head on the rocks in the shallow water.
There are a lot of moving parts to this story: from the incident allegedly arising from Hipps’ failure to purchase McDonalds breakfast for the brothers, to the involvement of a Delaware congressman’s son, and even rumors of a potential cover-up, at this point in time it is difficult to separate what is fact and what is fiction.
As a member of a fraternity, this story really hits home. Until America’s fraternities learn where to draw the line in terms of their hazing and partying habits, they will continue run the risk of becoming extinct organizations. There is absolutely no room in today’s already chaotic world for these type of heartbreaking news stories.
Rest in Peace, Tucker. I sincerely hope the truth finds its way into the light.