Special Reports

Fraternities part of probe

The FIJI house at the corner of Pollock Road and Burrowes Road, Wednesday, September 23, 2009. CDT/Christopher Weddle
The FIJI house at the corner of Pollock Road and Burrowes Road, Wednesday, September 23, 2009. CDT/Christopher Weddle

UNIVERSITY PARK — An autopsy shows freshman Joseph Dado, who was missing 39 hours before being found on a concrete stairwell, died very soon after falling 15 feet from a retaining wall, the county coroner said.

“He wasn’t lying there suffering or anything like that,” Coroner Scott Sayers said Wednesday. “With the type of head trauma he had, no. ... (He died) once he hit the concrete, but I don’t know exactly what time he fell.”

Sayers said he listed the time of death as “unknown AM Sunday” because it is unclear how much time elapsed between when Dado was last seen around 3 a.m. Sunday leaving fraternity Phi Gamma Delta and when he fell into the stairwell between two buildings on west campus about 75 yards away.

“Did he fall at 3:30? Did he fall at 5:30?” Sayers said. “I can’t determine that.”

Officials also confirmed that two fraternities are part of the police investigation into whether Dado, 18, consumed alcohol Saturday night and Sunday morning.

Phi Gamma Delta, also known as Fiji, was suspended from hosting or attending social events by the Interfraternity Council Tuesday night and has been banned by its international headquarters from having alcohol in its house, at least until a police investigation concludes.

University spokesman Geoff Rushton said both Fiji and members of Alpha Tau Omega, are being interviewed as part of a furnishing alcohol to minors investigation.

“Police are investigating and interviewing individuals at every venue Joe Dado visited Saturday and early Sunday — this includes the two fraternities that have been identified through their preliminary questioning,” said Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers. “In the course of their continuing investigation, it may be discovered that there were some actions that are of a criminal nature — and those will be handled according to law.”

The university’s office of Judicial Affairs will wait for the police to complete their investigation before taking any action.

Officials haven’t yet said if alcohol was a factor, pending toxicology results from the coroner that take four to six weeks. Dado’s death was ruled accidental.

Tuesday night, the IFC met in response to the incident and then released a statement about the suspension, saying Dado was a “potential” fraternity member participating in recruitment at Fiji. They also asked other fraternities to voluntarily suspend social events until the end of recruitment on Oct. 2.

Some fraternities reached Wednesday said they had not discussed the request. One said it would suspend such events.

“We are going to honor it,” said Sigma Alpha Epsilon president Brandon Shemtob. “There wasn’t even any discussion. It was one of those things you just step up and do.”

Wednesday evening, 2,500 people had joined a Facebook. com group, “No Parties October 1st,” with Dado’s picture at the forefront.

“The idea behind this event was to take a night off from something that we don’t need,” read a statement in the “description” area. “Be educated when you party, that is always the second best choice. This event isn’t trying to solve the problem, it’s just a night to take a step back.”

The Dado family, through Penn State, released this information Wednesday about funeral services: The visitation for friends and family will be held from 3 to 9 p.m. Friday at the Hartman- Graziano Funeral Home in Latrobe.

The church service will be 10 a.m. Saturday at the Charter Oak United Methodist Church in Unity Township, which is about 10 minutes from Latrobe.

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