An Ohio Wesleyan University fraternity has been closed for violating university rules, less than a week after a coroner’s report revealed an OWU student and frat pledge had been intoxicated at the time of his death.
Officials from OWU would not comment about whether there is a connection between the Wednesday closing of the OWU chapter of Phi Kappa Psi (Phi Psi) and a Delaware County coroner’s report — released on April 8 — detailing the cause of death of Luke Anthony Gabbert, a 19-year-old OWU student who was found dead on Feb. 6.
Gabbert, a Lewis Center resident and graduate of Olentangy Orange High School, was found in the area of Delaware Run creek off South Franklin Street by a man out for a walk. The Delaware County Coroner’s Office reports Gabbert’s cause of death was was “blunt force injury of (the) upper cervical spine and hypothermia as a result of a fall from (a) height into a creek.”
The coroner’s report also stated that Gabbert’s blood-alcohol level was .21 at the time of his death, more than twice the legal driving limit of .08.
Delaware police said Tuesday that they will be concluding their investigation soon and forwarding information to the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office, which would file any potential charges.
Police said they believe Gabbert had been drinking on campus the night he died.
Ohio Wesleyan’s student newspaper, The Transcript, reported in February that Gabbert had pledged Phi Psi the night of his death and had been drinking after completing the pledge ceremony.
The Transcript also reported that Gabbert went to a bar in downtown Delaware, was asked to leave after he vomited and, on his way home, reportedly split up with his friends to avoid being questioned by police.
OWU’s dean of students, Kurt C. Holmes, issued a statement Wednesday announcing that, after an investigation and hearing, the student conduct board ruled that Phi Psi had violated rules and would be closed.
Holmes said the fraternity can appeal the decision and students living in the fraternity’s house will remain there for the duration of this semester.
Police could not be reached for an update to the investigation Thursday.
The Transcript also reports that Phi Psi can request to be reinstated on campus. This request can be filed no sooner than fall of 2020.
OWU officials said the OWU chapter of Phi Psi was founded in 1861.
There are six fraternities left at OWU.
“Despite today’s action, the university remains very supportive of the fraternity and sorority experience which, at its best, helps to develop strong leadership skills, build a generous philanthropic spirit and create powerful alumni connections,” Holmes said in the statement.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.