Monday, December 10, 2007

Senator's grandson found dead at Clemson fraternity

The local gossip this morning is all about Senator Garrison's grandson, Benjamin Garrison Sprague, found dead on a futon at Clemson fraternity Sigma Nu.

Clemson freshman's body found at fraternity

Autopsy today on Greenville High grad, grandson of longtime lawmaker

Monday, December 10, 2007
By Paul Alongi
STAFF WRITER, Greenville News
An autopsy is expected to be performed today on the body of a Clemson University freshman who was found Sunday morning at an off-campus fraternity house.

The body of Benjamin Garrison Sprague was found lying on a futon at Sigma Nu near Seneca at 7:40 a.m. Sunday, according to Oconee County Coroner Karl Addis.

Srague was a Greenville High graduate and the grandson of longtime state legislator T. Ed Garrison.

Addis said Sprague, a Sigma Nu member, attended a party at the fraternity house Saturday.

Sprague, 18, was the grandson of Garrison, a Democratic state representative and senator from 1959 to 1987.

He was a general engineering major who graduated from Greenville High earlier this year and played center for the Red Raiders' football team, said family friend Jeff Dezen.

"Ben is one of the most brilliant, loving, kind young men I have ever known," Dezen said, "and I have known him since he was a little boy."
Fox News Carolina reported last night that there were no signs of a struggle. They also initially reported that Sprague had just pledged the frat within the past week, although that fact seems to have been dropped down the memory hole in both news account I read today. Alcohol poisoning?

Sprague comes from a prominent family, and this story has that telltale Pat Conroy vibe. What really happened? Will we ever know?
Clemson placed Sigma Nu on interim suspension, pending an investigation by its Office of Community and Ethical Standards, Denny said. Sigma Nu's executive director in Lexington, Va., couldn't be reached for comment.

The Oconee Sheriff's Office is also investigating Sprague's death and has asked for help from the State Law Enforcement Division, said SLED Inspector Richard Hunton. Sheriff James E. Singleton couldn't be reached for comment.

Sprague is the son of Joel and Gaye Sprague of Greenville and has an older brother, Jay, who attends Clemson, Dezen said. Relatives wanted to grieve in private Sunday, he said.

Garrison, the namesake of Clemson's livestock arena, owned Denver Downs Farm for years. His son Bart Garrison, also a Clemson graduate, died in a silo accident on the family's farm in May 1990.

Sprague was an outstanding athlete and scholar, Dezen said. He played on the Red Raiders' soccer team. Greenville County Schools honored him for being one of 12 students who never missed a day of high school.

"In his intelligence, his spirit and his joy for life, Ben Sprague was a giant," Dezen said.
My condolences to Benjamin's family; losing a child at Christmastime is particularly horrific.

Listening to: Minutemen - Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing
via FoxyTunes


Bryce said...

you called it, D. *impressive*

oconee county coroner just said on local tv: blood alcohol level over 0.4% which is like elephant dosage or something

prob a frat drinking contest but none of them will ever admit that

Sillygeuse said...

Aa a former member,(hangs head in shame), of the college Greek system, I can say that for all of the brotherhood and sisterhood in the world, when comes down to underage drinking, most fraternity and sorority members only encourage it more. I'm certain they are trying to cover up what really happened. It's really funny how they all can close ranks and the truth never comes out.

Daisy said...

Frat death scene "worse than Animal House," investigator says

Investigator recalls Sigma Nu fraternity house, where Benjamin Sprague died

By Liz Carey, Anderson (SC) Independent Mail
Wednesday, December 12, 2007

CLEMSON UNIVERSITY — The scene at the Sigma Nu house where Benjamin Sprague’s body was found on Sunday morning was worse than “Animal House,” a movie parody of fraternities that showed disarray throughout the home.

The Sigma Nu house scene, said one investigator and confirmed by Oconee County Coroner Karl Addis, appeared that a wild party had taken place.

“Animal House didn’t have anything on this place, buddy,” said the investigator, who asked to remain anonymous.

The investigator said the house was a mess. The floor of the house was covered in broken plates and puddles of beer and vodka. In addition, when Mr. Sprague’s body was moved, he said, he was found to be lying on a large raw steak. Mr. Addis said that was his impression of the scene as well.

“That’s correct,” Mr. Addis said. “What you’ve described is pretty much accurate.”

The investigator also said the fraternity members were not alone. Some were accompanied, he said, by girls, at least one of whom was naked. He said he was under the impression that the fraternity members, as well as the girls, had all been drunk and were in various stages of recuperating.

Mr. Addis could not verify that aspect of the crime scene.

“I know that I saw one young lady, in another area of the fraternity house, but now who was there, I cannot tell you,” he said.

Mr. Sprague, 18, a Clemson University freshman, was found dead at the house, which is located on a lake-front lot in Seneca. After the incident, vehicles were parked across the long driveway to the house, blocking any news media access.

A spokeswoman from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division said she could not comment on the report because it was an ongoing investigation.

According to the Oconee County coroner, Mr. Sprague died of alcohol poisoning and had a blood alcohol level of 0.4 percent, more than five times the legal limit for an adult. The legal limit for someone under 21 is 0.02, while it is 0.08 for an adult.

Mr. Sprague is the grandson of former state legislator T. Ed Garrison. Mr. Sprague’s family lives in Greenville, where he attended Greenville High School and played on the football and soccer teams. His older brother also is a member of the fraternity.

When asked about the description of the fraternity house, Sigma Nu president Josh Bell declined to comment.

Brad Beacham, executive director of Sigma Nu Fraternity, Inc., the national Sigma Nu organization, said he had not heard of the conditions in the house.

“First of all, what you’ve described to me is the first time I’ve heard anything along those lines,” he said. “If it’s true, absolutely it’s incredibly concerning.”

While each fraternity chapter is self-governing, he said, there are certain requirements of each chapter house.

“We expect them to adhere to our principles,” he said. “And the national organization has expectations of each chapter, that the houses keep a clean, healthy and safe environment.”

Each chapter house is visited annually, in an announced visit, he said.

Unfortunately, there is no way for university officials to visit or to govern off-campus housing, said Gail DiSabatino, vice president of student affairs at Clemson University.

“Off-campus fraternity houses are either privately owned or rented properties,” she said. “We would not become involved in checking out the conditions at someone private place of residence.”

However, she said, any university student is expected to follow the university’s code of conduct. The conditions of the house she said did not necessarily violate that code of conduct.

And, she was not concerned about the state of the house.

“It does (concern me) and it doesn’t,” she said. “There was a party that went on, but I’m assuming that was not a typical day in the life of that house.”

The university had been working with the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office and the fraternity concerning several complaints from neighbors over the past month about trash and noise problems, she said.

Investigations on the part of SLED, Clemson University and Sigma Nu’s national chapter, are ongoing.