A freshman West Virginia University student died Friday, two days after he was found unconscious and without a pulse, suffering from a “catastrophic medical emergency” on the floor of a frat house, officials said.
Nolan Burch, 18, had been in fighting for his life in intensive care at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, W. Va., since late Wednesday, when he was found not breathing and unresponsive on the floor at the off-campus Kappa Sigma house, police said.
The suburban Buffalo, N.Y. native was majoring in pro-sport management, the university president said in a statement announcing the death.
Words cannot describe the heartache we, as a West Virginia University family, feel at the loss of one of our own – Nolan Michael Burch – who passed away today,” WVU President E. Gordon Gee said “The outpouring of love and support from his friends and this community has been what you would expect from Mountaineers, and I would ask that you continue to keep the Burch family and many friends in your thoughts and prayers.”
The Greek life-related incident prompted school officials to suspend all social and pledging activities related to campus sororities and fraternities, officials said in a release Thursday after Burch was hospitalized.
“The action to halt fraternity and sorority activities while these matters are being reviewed is being done with the well-being and safety of our students in mind. That is – and must always be – our foremost priority,” the statement said.
It’s unclear what happened, but fellow students told WDTV that the incident may have been hazing related.
In the hours before he was hospitalized, Burch wrote an ominous final tweet.
“It’s about to be a very eventful night to say the least,” he wrote on Twitter Wednesday morning.
Days earlier, on the morning of his Nov. 7 birthday, Burch tweeted, “Still hammered.”
“These things shouldn’t happen,” the teen’s great-aunt Joyce Stamp told NBC News. “He’s only 18. He’s a nice young man and I’m shocked.
“But he’s a freshman and even very intelligent kids sometimes get caught up. You hear all the stuff about hazing, and this is his first time away from home,” she added.
The Kappa Sigma served three years of probation after a 2010 hazing incident, WDTV reported.
And according to WSAZ-TV, the frat had currently been suspended since October for other violations.
Just earlier this month, a separate West Virginia fraternity, Sigma Chi, had been suspended after a brawl early Nov. 6 involving several drunk pledges, some of whom were arrested.
The suspension of Greek life on campus is expected to last at least through the end of the semester, Becky Lofstead, the assistant vice president for university communications, told the Daily News Friday.
“Everybody is grieving,” Lofstead said. “His family was very kind, they said their son loved the university. They were headed home this afternoon and went to pick up his things from his residence hall and just wanted some time alone to grieve.”
Burch’s sister took to Twitter mourn her brother, who she said “he always had a smile on his face and always lit up the room.”
“Rest in peace buddy I’ll see you later, but for now raise hell up there for me,” Alex Burch wrote.
The campus Greek community has organized a 6 p.m. vigil Friday for all to attend, to be held at the Mountainlair Plaza, a campus green space, Lofstead said.
Police in Morgantown said the incident remains under investigation.
Source: NY Daily News