MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (KDKA) — There are new details as the investigation continues into the death of a West Virginia University freshman who was found unresponsive in a fraternity house earlier this week.
When Morgantown Police officers arrived at the Kappa Sigma fraternity house around midnight on Thursday, 18-year-old Nolan Burch, of New York, had no pulse and was not breathing.
He was rushed to Ruby Memorial Hospital for treatment, but died Friday in the intensive care unit.
West Virginia University officials are now waiting for answers from police.
“It does change things, but again, until the investigation is complete by the Morgantown Police Department, and they release that information to us, we don’t know how it changes things,” said WVU Dean of Students Corey Farris. “We still don’t know the circumstances behind it.”
Police are investigating whether alcohol and hazing were involved.
Apparently, Burch was pledging to join the fraternity.
KDKA has learned that the national fraternity pulled their charter from the group a few days ago, meaning Kappa Sigma is no longer a recognized fraternity or student organization on the university’s campus.
“There is nothing that we can do as a student organization, obviously. But if we find that there were individual students that were a part of whatever that went down that was not… was against the law, was against our rules and regulation, then the university can take individual action against the individual students,” said Farris.
Kappa Sigma’s national fraternity released a statement following Burch’s death Friday:
“We are distraught and saddened by the news about West Virginia University student Nolan Burch. Kappa Sigma is still investigating the circumstances surrounding the event. This proves difficult, as the operations of this chapter have been suspended since mid-October, due to previous, unrelated violations of Kappa Sigma’s Code of Conduct. Subsequently, the chapter and school were notified on Monday, November 10, prior to the event in question, that the group’s charter had been withdrawn and its operations had been closed.”
Meanwhile, the university has suspended all social activities for all fraternities and sororities.
Last week, 19 members of a different fraternity were arrested for causing alcohol-related problems, and last month, students rioted after the Mountaineers football team defeated Baylor.
Members of the Greek community were collecting money for the Burch family Friday afternoon. Some were in support of the newly-imposed moratorium on fraternities and sororities.
“This a drinking town, this is a drinking culture, but us – as Greek leaders – and the fact that we have an organization to hold us responsible, need to be the first part of the movement in showing the rest of this school how we are supposed to act,” said one student.
WVU’s Inter-Fraternity Council and Panhellenic Council organized a candlelight vigil to remember Burch Friday night on campus. It will be held at the Mountainlair Plaza for members of the WVU and Morgantown community.
It was a somber gathering of hundreds of students outside the student union.
“Nothing good comes out of this, honestly,” said Sal Cuccia, a WVU fraternity member. “Just, hopefully, all of us can realize we all can be a little more responsible with certain things that happened.”
There were hugs, tears and regrets.
“Whatever happened, you’ve got to be careful. If you’re drinking, you’ve got to be careful. You can’t overdo it or whatever,” said Spiros Billos, one of Burch’s friends.
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