RICHMOND, Va. — Authorities are investigating the death of a Virginia Commonwealth University freshman found dead early Saturday after a fraternity rush event involving alcohol, according to a family member of the victim.
Adam Oakes, 19, of Loudoun County died early Saturday at an off-campus residence following a Delta Chi event, prompting the chapter’s immediate suspension by both the university and the fraternity’s headquarters, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
Courtney White, Oakes’ cousin, told the newspaper that Oakes attended the off-campus party Friday night, where he was instructed to drink whiskey and later blindfolded, causing him to run into a tree and hit his head.
Oakes was then reportedly helped into the house, where he was left lying on his side to fall asleep. Police were called Saturday morning when he was found unresponsive, lying face down, White told the Times-Dispatch.
According to the newspaper, Oakes was pronounced dead at the scene at around 9:16 a.m., but a medical examiner has not yet determined the cause or manner of death.
“The health and safety of our chapter communities is always a top priority for The Delta Chi Fraternity,” the fraternity’s headquarters said in a prepared statement. “We encourage all members to cooperate with law enforcement investigative efforts and all directives of the university administration.”
Meanwhile, a Change.org petition launched by a VCU student calling for the fraternity’s permanent expulsion – along with those of all students involved in the tragedy – garnered more than 8,000 signatures by Monday night.
Eric Oakes, Adam Oakes’ father, told WRIC he remains in shock over the passing of his only son and that “everyone in the family is devastated.”
“He is all we had. He is everything we had in our life. We had one child, he’s a lovely kid. He just totally enjoyed life,” Eric Oakes told the TV station.
A GoFundMe account created for the Oakes family has raised $34,000 to date.