Police Suspect Hazing in Fresno State Student’s Death

FRESNO – Police are looking into the recent alcohol-related death of an 18-year-old Fresno State student and fraternity pledge as a hazing investigation.

Philip Dhanens

Philip Dhanens, 18, of Bakersfield, was at the Theta Chi fraternity house when he became unconscious after a heavy night of drinking. He later died of swelling of the brain due to acute alcohol consumption, according to a coroner’s report. His blood-alcohol level was determined to be 0.36, which is four times the legal limit to drive.

Now details from a search warrant filed this week in Fresno County Superior Court reveal that members of the fraternity have been impeding the investigation into Dhanens’ death, leaving police worried that they may destroy evidence in the case.

The incident happened on Aug. 31 when Dhanens, other pledges, and members of the fraternity were at the Theta Chi house drinking. Several fraternity members are revealed to have purchased the alcohol that would later be consumed by Dhanens and other underage drinkers.

At the fraternity house, the pledges were placed into a room with numerous bottles of alcohol and were told they could not leave the room until all of the bottles were finished, the search warrant said.

“After approximately 20 minutes of drinking, chanting, and encouragement, Philip Dhanens became excited and began drinking heavy and aggressively,” the search warrant stated. “During this time, Philip Dhanens was said to have become severely intoxicated and passed out in his chair.”

Dhanens was taken into the “Drunk Room.” A few hours later, fraternity members checked on him and noticed that Dhanens had vomited, was pale, and wasn’t breathing. Two members began administering CPR, while others called 911. The rest of the fraternity members were ordered to their rooms and all non-members were told to leave the house.

Dhanens was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead on Sept. 2.

Police have declined to comment on the investigation because it is ongoing. Paul Oliaro, vice president of student affairs at Fresno state, said that the university is awaiting completion of the police investigation before deciding the appropriate response to the tragic incident.

“Theta Chi remains on interim suspension from university recognition,” he said.

Read More:

LATimes: Police Searched Fresno State Fraternity House After Hazing Death

Fresno Bee:  Hazing Suspected in Fresno State Fraternity Drinking Death

Police Suspect Hazing in Fresno State Student’s Death was last modified: January 11th, 2019 by admin
Categories: Fresno
Tags: hazing

About Author

Elizabeth Warmerdam

Beth Warmerdam is a freelance journalist based out of Reedley. She graduated from Fresno State in 2004 with a BA in print journalism and has worked for several newspapers and magazines. In addition to writing, Beth enjoys being a stay-at-home mom, trying to keep up with her 2-year-old son, Zachary.