Awful news out of Clemson over the weekend. 19-year-old Clemson University student Tucker Hipps was found dead in nearby Hartwell Lake after last being seen participating in “an early-morning group activity run with fraternity members.” Here is a statement released by Clemson University about Tucker’s death. The fraternity in question is Sig Ep:
The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is conducting an investigation into the death of Clemson University student Tucker Hipps, whose body was found by university police in Hartwell Lake near the Highway 93 bridge. Tucker was participating in an early-morning group activity run with fraternity members. He didn’t return from the run and wasn’t at breakfast, so they began looking for him. Members of the fraternity contacted the Clemson University Police Department to report him missing at 1:45 p.m. Monday. A university police officer found his body in the lake near the Highway 93 bridge about 3:30 p.m. The case was turned over to the Sheriff’s Office at that point. “We are cooperating and also conducting our own investigation,” said Gail DiSabatino, Clemson University vice president for student affairs. “We’re terribly saddened by Tucker’s death,” she said. “It’s always tragic when someone so young and promising is lost. Our hearts go out to his family and friends.” The university is providing grief counseling to students.
Today the school released another statement announcing the suspension of activity in the wake of his death, mentioning possible honor code violations and fraternities breaking the law:
Clemson University officials have suspended all social and new-member initiation activities of 24 fraternities in the wake of several recent reports of violations of the law or student conduct code. “It is especially prudent to suspend fraternity activities given the tragic death of Tucker Hipps. There has been a high number of reports of serious incidents involving fraternity activities, ranging from alcohol-related medical emergencies to sexual misconduct,” said Student Affairs Vice President Gail DiSabatino. “These behaviors are unacceptable and mandate swift and effective action to protect students. There is no higher priority than the safety and welfare of our students.” Matters of a criminal nature have been turned over to appropriate law enforcement agencies, while violations of the student code of conduct are being investigated by the university’s Office of Community and Ethical Standards.
Meanwhile, social media chatter from Clemson students is swirling. There are A LOT of rumors and allegations that Tucker’s death may be the result of some hazing.
It gets much, much worse. On Yik Yak, the anonymous text app that’s popular with college kids these days, very serious allegations claim that Sig Ep is responsible. Here are screengrabs off the Clemson page via Gawker:
Meanwhile, Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw has released a statement reminding everyone that their investigation is on-going. Via:
“There has been speculation and innuendo, especially on social media, regarding whether hazing played a part in the death of Tucker Hipps.” “So far, there has been no indication in the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office investigation that hazing played a part in the death of Tucker Hipps. Once again, the investigation is ongoing. Sheriff’s Investigators continue to work with Clemson University, the Clemson University Police Department and the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity to determine the manner of death in this case.” “We are also asking that anyone that may have been traveling along Highway 93 and the Seneca River Bridge area between 5:30am and 6am yesterday morning to call the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is they saw anything at that time. You can contact the Sheriff’s Office at 864-638-4111 to provide your information.”
The whole thing makes Tucker’s last tweet extra eerie.
My pledge brothers tho>> — Tucker Hipps (@TuckerHipps5) September 6, 2014
//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsNo one is sure exactly what happened yet, or who’s saw or did what yet. Whether or not hazing was involved by SigEp remains to be seen.
Stuff like this makes us sick with sadness. How can you not feel for a beloved, stand-up member of the Clemson community — or any community, really — being gone so soon? Just awful. We hate to hear stories like this. Let’s hope his friends and family find peace. RIP, Tucker.