Lawsuit Filed in Drowning of Arizona State Frat Pledge

The mother of an Arizona State University fraternity pledge who drowned after a night of drinking has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the chapter.

Grace Culolias wants a jury trial to decide punitive and compensatory damages.

Her civil suit, filed late last month in Maricopa County Superior Court, alleges the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity was grossly negligent in its November 2012 pledge drive.

Jack Culolias, a 19-year-old freshman, was kicked out of a Tempe bar at a frat event for being drunk and unruly, and urinating in the patio area.

His body was found weeks later in Tempe Town Lake. An autopsy showed he died by accidental drowning and had a blood-alcohol level of 0.28 percent.

According to the lawsuit, Sigma Alpha Epsilon scheduled a social on Nov. 30, 2012, at the now-defunct Cadillac Ranch bar near ASU’s Tempe campus and provided bus transportation for its members and pledges from a party at an off-campus apartment complex to the bar.

The lawsuit also alleges that several pledges and members switched drink wristbands to ensure underage pledges and members would be able to drink alcohol.

At least two fraternity members knew Culolias was thrown out of the bar and did nothing to ensure a safe way home, according to the lawsuit.

Also listed as defendants in the suit are the fraternity’s chapter president, five other fraternity members and their alumni adviser.

A call to Sigma Alpha Epsilon officials seeking comment Tuesday wasn’t immediately returned.

The fraternity had its chapter status revoked by ASU last year following a string of student conduction violations.