Home / National News / WVU Student Who Died in Fraternity Pledging Had Blood Alcohol Six Times Legal Limit


(MORGANTOWN, W.Va.) — A West Virginia University student who died during a fraternity pledge event had a blood-alcohol level of more than six times the legal limit, well above what health officials consider lethal, police said Tuesday.

Nolan Burch, 18, of Williamsville, N.Y., died Nov. 14, after suffering a “catastrophic medical emergency” during a pledging ceremony at Kappa Sigma fraternity, police said.

Burch and 19 other fraternity pledges were taking part in an initiation function known as “Big-Little,” Morgantown Police Chief Ed Preston said in a statement released Tuesday.

Burch and the others were taken to a room in the fraternity where they were blindfolded and then taken to another house where they were presented to the “Big,” a senior member or alumnus of Kappa Sigma, and given a bottle of liquor, Preston said.

After he drank a large quantity of alcohol, Burch was taken back to the fraternity house, where he was so intoxicated he was laid on a table, the police chief said.

Later that night, a fraternity member noticed that Burch’s face was blue and tried to wake him, but it was found that he had no pulse, Preston said.

While some fraternity members performed CPR, a call was placed to 911. He later died at a Morgantown hospital. A report from the medical examiner is still pending, the police chief said.

Subsequent tests revealed that his blood-alcohol level was 0.493, Preston said.

The day after Burch’s death, the school put a moratorium on Greek activity on the campus.

“And while some events such as chapter meetings, philanthropic activities and educational programming are allowed, the ban remains in place for social activities with the exception of alcohol free/dry events, pending approval of plans,” WVU officials, the WVU InterFraternity Council, the WVU Pan-Hellenic Council and the WVU National Pan-Hellenic Council said in a joint statement released Tuesday evening.

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