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Sunday, October 25, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

WSU fraternity member dies in ‘alcohol-related’ incident, Pullman police say

UPDATED: Wed., Nov. 13, 2019

A 19-year-old student at Washington State University died Tuesday in what authorities believe may be an alcohol-related incident.

Samuel Martinez, a Bellevue resident and member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, was unconscious and not breathing when authorities responded to the fraternity’s chapter at 710 Northeast Linden St. just after 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, according to the Pullman Police Department.

Fellow fraternity members tried to revive the student before medics arrived, according to a news release.

Martinez was declared dead at the scene. The Whitman County Coroner’s Office is performing an investigation into the cause and manner of the student’s death, and police also are investigating. The death did not occur on WSU’s Pullman campus.

WSU’s fraternities and sororities decided Tuesday to suspend all social events for the remainder of the semester, according to a news release from the university.

“Washington State University will be working with the Pullman Police Department and the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity in the coming days to investigate the circumstances surrounding this death,” Phil Weiler, the university’s vice president for marketing and communications, said in an emailed statement. “Today, however, we are focused on supporting the student’s family and our University community.”

Alpha Tau Omega is one of 27 fraternity chapters at WSU whose activities are overseen by the Interfraternity Council.

“The Interfraternity Council is extremely saddened to learn of the death of a member of our fraternity community,” Austin Proteau, president of the council, said in an emailed statement. “We offer condolences to his family and friends.”

The organization is urging all of its member chapters to complete education activities for new members by Friday, Proteau said.

Tuesday’s death follows other high-profile incidents at college campuses across the nation linked to underage alcohol use.

San Diego State University suspended 14 fraternities on Tuesday, after 19-year-old Dylan Hernandez died after falling from his dorm room bed, according to news reports. Students had reported the teenager had been drinking heavily the night before at a fraternity party. Recent student deaths at Penn State and Cornell University have also been linked to heavy drinking.

The Whitman County Sheriff’s Office and the Office of the Dean of Students at WSU are offering student support and counseling, according to the release.

Editor’s note: This story was updated on Nov. 13, 2019 to include the name of the student who died at the fraternity.

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