Grieving Parents of FSU Student Who Died of Alcohol Poisoning Push for Anti-Hazing Law
Andrew Coffey died of acute alcohol poisoning last November -- and now his father says "I don't want another family going through what we go through"
Andrew Coffey was a junior at Florida State University when a night of fraternity partying ended in tragedy.
Last November, he was found unresponsive on a couch after a Pi Kappa Phi fraternity party on campus. He allegedly drank an entire bottle of 101-proof bourbon and lated died of acute alcohol poisoning. He was 20.
Nine of his fraternity brothers were arrested and charged with hazing. They have pleaded not guilty.
Now, Coffey’s parents have filed a lawsuit and are pushing for a new federal anti-hazing law. They tell CBS News that they are seeking “justice and accountability” — and hope that their son’s tragic death will help others.
“If people in the past had gotten together, maybe my son would still be here,” Andrew’s father, Tom Coffee, told CBS This Morning. “So therefore, we have to yell as loud as we can in order to get this stopped. I don’t want another family going through what we go through.”
In the interview, Tom and Sandra Coffey recount getting the news that their son had died.
“I remember driving, going, ‘This doesn’t happen to us,'” Sandra said.
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According to the Coffeys, Andrew badly wanted to become a brother in Pi Kappa Phi.
“His friends belonged and he’d joined with them at some of the fraternity functions and everything else and wanted to belong,” Tom Coffey tells CBS. “It would be a support system. Brothers, friendships for life.”
But now the family wishes that Coffey had never joined the fraternity, and in their lawsuit they claim that Pi Kappa Phi “had been hazing and having pledges abuse alcohol for years.” They claim that the alcohol that Andrew drank was part of an initiation ritual known as “the family bottle.”
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When a pledge found him unresponsive the next morning — hours after he had consumed the alcohol — he called 911. “His lips are purple, his body is extremely stiff,” the caller told the dispatcher. “I can’t wake him up and I honestly don’t feel a pulse.”
The Coffey family says that they are not suing for financial compensation, but to make a change in how the law treats hazing.
“It’s accountability and education,” Tom Coffey tells CBS. “A federal statute has to be written that goes from the top, you know, where the national fraternity is at risk, as well as the local chapter. And then education to high school students.”
A spokesperson for Pi Kappa Phi refused to comment, citing the pending litigation.