A Drake University student was rushed to Iowa Methodist Medical Center early Sunday morning for alcohol poisoning. Police reports indicate freshman Nate Erickson’s blood alcohol content was nearly .500.
Medics were sent to 1311 33rd St. to find Erickson unresponsive and “nearly unable to breathe by himself,” according to the Des Moines police report.
Erickson’s mother, Jacqueline Nickerson, told police that Erickson sent out text messages “stating that ‘they’ were making me do full cups of Everclear and that he had already done five beer can shots,” the police report states. “He even stated that ‘I’m gonna die.’”
At the hospital, medical personnel had Erickson on a ventilator. Students close to Erickson told The Times-Delphic that he is functioning and awake, but they are still unsure of any liver or brain damage. Erickson was released from the hospital Monday.
Erickson is a pledge of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. The police report said his mother was concerned that he might have been “forced to drink the alcohol as part of a hazing ritual.”
The house that Erickson was found at is commonly known as “The Carter” – an unofficial annex of Phi Delta Theta. The house is not officially linked, however, to the fraternity.
Nathen Pastorik, president of Drake’s Phi Delta Theta chapter, said once full details of Saturday’s events are compiled, the fraternity will pursue the appropriate course of action, including full disciplinary proceedings.
“The members and alumni advisers of Phi Delta Theta are working in full cooperation with officials from Drake University, Des Moines Police and the fraternity’s international office to gather complete information regarding the events of Saturday evening, Nov. 7, which led to the hospitalization of a Drake undergraduate student,” Pastorik said. “Naturally, the health and recovery of the student is paramount on everyone’s minds.”
Bob Biggs, executive vice president of Phi Delta Theta International, said that the fraternity is promptly investigating the incident and sent a representative to Drake’s campus. The representative met with chapter leaders, alumni and Drake administration this afternoon.
“First and foremost, we’re concerned about Nathan and we hope he has a full and speedy recovery from this incident,” Biggs said. “But we are investigating, trying to get the facts of the situation to understand who was involved.”
The fraternity has a strict anti-hazing policy that, if broken, could lead to membership removal or closing the chapter.
“We have a zero tolerance for hazing activities,” Biggs said.
Pastorik said he is taking all appropriate measures in this case.
“Any suggested violation of this policy will be dealt with in a most expeditious manner,” Pastorik said. “We do not, and will not, condone any activity that goes counter to fraternity and school policies and regulations.”
Biggs also said that the fraternity does not allow alcohol on its property, but wanted to make it clear that this event happened off campus and on non-fraternity property.
Lisa Lacher, Drake’s director of media relations and public relations, said the university is very concerned about any allegations of hazing, as the event was in the presence of Erickson’s “pledge dad.”
“Hazing would definitely be a violation of our Student Code of Conduct, as well as a state statute,” Lacher said. “We will be doing a very complete and intensive investigation.”
Leigh Thiedeman, director of fraternity and sorority life, said her department is not focused on the hazing allegations right now, but focusing primarily on Erickson’s health.
“Right now, we’re concerned about the student and making sure that he is healthy,” Thiedeman said. “We will deal with everything else in an appropriate manner.”
Members of Greek Life were given explicit direction not to talk to media personnel regarding this weekend’s events.
Story Updated: 11/10/2009 2:26 PM
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