Bernadette Carter, the mother of an East Carolina University student who died in a single-car accident during “Hell Week,” is suing Delta Sigma Theta (DST) sorority, claiming hazing led to her daughter’s death.
The lawsuit alleges the members of DST at East Carolina deprived her daughter, Victoria T’nya-Ann Carter, of sleep and forced pledges to engage in demeaning activities such as harsh workouts, dressing alike, and staying up all night, which she claims led to the 2010 fatal car accident.
Carter, 20, was one of two ECU students who died on Nov. 20, 2010, when the car they were riding in careened off a Greenville road and slammed into a tree.
Kamil Arrington, a sorority pledge from Nash County, was driving the Toyota Yaris at 6:30 a.m.
The Delta big sisters had selected Arrington as a designated driver who would ferry the pledges to practices, predawn hair appointments and other engagements, according to Carter’s lawsuit, which was amended in Nash County on Monday.
Carter was in the back seat on the right side of the car. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Briana Gather, 20, of Kernersville died the next day. A fourth student, 19-year-old Taylor King of Greenville, survived the crash.
Arrington, who pleaded guilty last year to two counts of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle, was suffering from “excessive and overwhelming fatigue, exhaustion and sleep deprivation,” according to the lawsuit, and “fell asleep behind the wheel.”
Initially Carter’s lawsuit only named the driver of the car, but she later amended it to include the sorority and nearly two-dozen ECU members. Her goal? She wanted answers.
According to the lawsuit, members of the sorority tried to conceal their pledging activities by deleting text messages, erasing emails, and threatening pledges. The university conducted an investigation, but sorority members remained mum about the details and the chapter was placed on probation for two years.
Although Cater says suing Delta Sigma Theta won’t bring her daughter back, she hopes her daughter’s death won’t be in vain.
“There’s no amount of money that’s going to bring their daughter back,” McCabe said. “What they really want to do is change the culture.”
Delta Sigma Theta was founded in 1913 at Howard University. Like the other black Greek organizations, DST has an anti-hazing policy, but also like the other organizations, many of its members continue to engage in the practice.
Delta Sigma Theta has suspended the chapter at ECU until at least 2015 while they continue to conduct an internal investigation.
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