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Washington State University student died hours before classmates called 911, coroner says

November 20, 2019 - 8:34 pm
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(WASHINGTON) -- A Washington State University student died four hours before fellow fraternity members first called 911 to report that he was unresponsive, investigators revealed Wednesday.

Sam Martinez, a 19-year-old freshman, died at the Alpha Tau Omega house in Pullman, Washington, at about 4:30 a.m. on Nov. 12, according to Whitman County Coroner Annie Pillers. Police said classmates called 911 at around 8:30 a.m., saying Martinez was "unconscious and not breathing."

Fellow fraternity members had attempted to perform CPR on the young man, but medics ultimately pronounced him dead at the scene, according to the Pullman Police Department.

The department said alcohol may have played a role in the student’s death, but the Whitman County Coroner's Office, which is investigating the case, has yet to make an official determination on the cause and manner of his death. The office said it will take at least two months to complete the investigation.

At this time, investigators don't believe the incident meets the definition of hazing, police said.

Washington State University described the student's death as "heartbreaking" in a statement last week. School counselors and student affairs staff have met with "those most closely affected by this tragic loss," the university said.

All fraternities and sororities on campus have self-imposed an immediate suspension of social events for the rest of the semester amid the ongoing investigation.

"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," the school said in a statement. "Today, however, we are focused on supporting the student’s family and our University community."

The Alpha Tau Omega National Fraternity, headquartered in Indianapolis, released a brief statement last week, saying in part, "Alpha Tau Omega mourns the death of a member who passed away overnight. The chapter is working with local officials and university administrators in their investigation."

Martinez's death came just two days after a San Diego State University freshman, Dylan Hernandez, died after leaving a fraternity gathering. Hernandez fell off a bunk bed following an event at the Phi Gamma Delta house on campus. All 14 fraternities at the school were suspended in the wake of his death.

Separately, an Arizona State University student, Ivan Aguirre, was found dead Nov. 11 at the Greek Leadership Village, but school officials have not released details about the circumstances of his death.

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