A 20-year-old Phi Beta Sigma pledge at Prairie View A&M University underwent systematic hazing — including a strict bread-and-water diet, paddling and mandatory rigorous exercises — that intensified until it culminated in his death, a lawsuit filed by his parents states.
Donnie Wade II, a biology major studying to become a doctor, died Oct. 20 following a pre-dawn exercise session with a group of his pledge brothers, investigators said.
While the autopsy is not yet complete, Wade’s mother, Katrina, blames hazing for taking her only son from her.
“I will not rest until I am sure no other families will go through what we have,” she said.
Her husband, Wade I, is an associate pastor of the Dallas-area Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship.
The wrongful death lawsuit, filed Friday in Dallas County, seeks as much as $97 million in damages from the national fraternity based in Washington, D.C., the pledge trainer, Marvin Jackson, and Prairie View A&M.
Prairie View’s spokeswoman Sheleah Hughes said the university is continuing its probe into the incident and could not comment on the lawsuit.
Similarly, Phi Beta Sigma did not return phone calls. But in a recent Web site posting, the organization stated: “Hazing does not represent the tradition and principles of the 95-year history of our fraternity” and expressed its condolences to Wade’s parents.
The parents hired a private investigator, who took statements that led to the filing of the lawsuit, said the family‘s attorney, Kevin Kelley of Dallas.
The suit states that the younger Wade paid his $900 initiation fee and was given his acceptance letter from the Dangerous Delta Theta chapter of Beta Sigma Phi, as were nine other pledges.