Alcohol Intoxication Ruled Official Cause of Death in U. Maryland Case

By By U Wire

By U Wire

Michelle RothmanThe DiamondbackUniversity of Maryland

COLLEGE PARK, Md.?The state medical examiner’s office named acute alcohol intoxication as the cause of University of Maryland freshman Daniel Reardon’s Feb. 14 death, but details about complications surrounding Reardon’s death have not been released to the public because of the ongoing police investigation.

Officials at the state medical examiner’s office said Reardon’s manner of death was undetermined and his blood-alcohol level was greater than the state’s legal limit of 0.08. Washington Adventist Hospital recorded levels as high as 0.50, Reardon’s father, Daniel P. Reardon, said in an Associated Press article.

The full autopsy report will take about two more weeks to complete, at which time it will be released to the police, said Shirl Walker, administrative aid to the state medical examiner. The report will not be made public until the police investigation is complete.

Reardon, 19, a boarder at the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity house who signed a bid to join the chapter, was hospitalized after being found unconscious in a lounge area of the house early Feb. 8. He died a week later.

The night before Reardon was found, new chapter members and an inductor?a previously initiated member of the fraternity?met in a room of the house at 7 Fraternity Drive. Inside the room new members drank bourbon while learning about one another, some fraternity members said last month.

“This was a supervised, needless tragedy,” Reardon’s father told The Associated Press. “It was organized, planned and held against the stated rules of the university and against the stated rules of the frat house. My son became a tragedy because of it.”

Police previously had named alcohol a factor in Reardon’s death and are examining the circumstances surrounding the death, including the possibility of hazing. The police report won’t be completed until the autopsy report is released to police, University Police Spokesman Capt. Paul Dillon said.

“It’s kind of hard to present anything to a state’s attorney or a grand jury or whatever we want to do with it without an official report from them,” Dillon said.

If the police report finds evidence of hazing, criminal charges could be filed against members of the former chapter, and Reardon’s family could bring civil charges against the fraternity’s national organization, said Douglas Fierberg, a Washington, D.C., lawyer.

Phi Sigma Kappa’s national headquarters revoked the university chapter’s charter, and the chapter’s former house has been vacant since March 9. Many, including Reardon’s parents and the police, speculated alcohol played a role in the fatality before the official cause of death was determined. George Cathcart, university spokesman, said the news is no surprise to him.

“Nothing really new about this has come out this week,” Cathcart said. “It’s been reported for quite some time. We still don’t know the circumstances surrounding the events that night, at least not officially.”

The university still is awaiting a police report before it takes any action, Cathcart said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.