The incident, which happened overnight Thursday, took place at the Sigma Pi house, according to WKBW-TV in Buffalo.
The Buffalo Police Department said it is investigating the matter and that a student was rushed to the hospital with a “serious medical condition” believed to be the result of the incident of “potential hazing.”
The university Saturday identified the student as Sebastian Serafin-Bazan, an 18-year-old freshman from Port Chester, New York. Hes currently a patient at Buffalo General Hospital. The school said it cant provide an update of his condition because of federal privacy laws that protect patients.
“Out of respect for the familys privacy, the university will have no other comment at this time,” school officials said in a statement.
Student on life support after suspected case of hazing at University of Buffalo
Further details have not been disclosed. But the television station cited a source close to the investigation who said student was “on life support” Friday night.
The Buffalo News reported that Serafin-Bazan had no alcohol or drugs in his system but went into cardiac arrest during possible hazing that included forced exercises by fraternity brothers. Serafin-Bazan was recently treated for a respiratory ailment, the newspaper said.
In a statement, University at Buffalo President Satish Tripathi said the school has reached out to the students family and is providing “all the assistance and comfort we can to them during this incredibly difficult time.”
He said the university has “zero tolerance” for hazing. “Not only are hazing incidents a violation of our university policies, but they are also crimes.”
A Sigma Pi student at Ohio University died after a hazing incident in November 2018. The family of that student, Collin Wiant, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Sigma Pi and another 10 unnamed individuals in February.
“Therefore, at my direction,” he said, “the official activities of all recognized fraternities and sororities are suspended effective immediately.”
Tripathi added that the university community is committed to ensuring a safe educational environment for students. He vowed to perform an internal review of the activities of the schools fraternities and sororities and will “strongly counsel” all Greek organization about the University at Buffalos zero-tolerance policy on hazing.
Jonathan Frost, executive director and CEO of the Sigma Pi Fraternity & Foundation, issued a statement that said, “Sigma Pi has recently learned of a reported allegation of health & safety policy violations at Epsilon-Omicron Chapter at the University at Buffalo.
“At this time, we are currently gathering information and, if necessary, will provide further comment after all facts have been gathered.”
A University at Buffalo student who went into cardiac arrest during a possible fraternity hazing incident had no drugs or alcohol in his system, according to preliminary toxicology tests.
Sebastian Serafin-Bazan, 18, was believed to have been ordered to perform exercises late Thursday night, April 11 into Friday morning, April 12 when he began experiencing physical distress, The Buffalo News reported, citing police sources.
Fraternity brothers are believed to have ordered Sebastian Serafin-Bazan, 18, a downstate resident, to perform exercises in their University Heights residence late Thursday night and into Friday morning when he began experiencing physical distress, two police sources told The Buffalo News.
Serafin-Bazan was listed in critical condition late Saturday in the medical intensive care unit at Buffalo General Medical Center, police said.
University at Buffalo President Satish Tripathi said the school is providing “all the assistance and comfort we can” to Serafin-Bazans family “during this incredibly difficult time.
One of the fraternity brothers told us that they carried him outside to get him some fresh air after he fell and hit the back of his head on a coffee table, said Patty Adams, who lives next door to 69 Custer St., a residence associated with the Sigma Pi fraternity. We were told he had the flu.
“Therefore, at my direction, the official activities of all recognized fraternities and sororities are suspended effective immediately.”
Another neighbor had told The News Friday he had seen four or five individuals carrying a person from the house and placing him on the front lawn. One of the individuals stayed, while the others fled, UB senior Lavontae Armwood said.
Besides the people who removed Serafin-Bazan from the house, Armwood estimated that in total 20 young people fled from the scene. An ambulance crew arrived at the residence shortly after midnight Thursday.
One of the two police sources speculated that the young people who had been at the fraternity house panicked.
Sergio Serafin, a brother of Sebastian, said Saturday that the family is upset and did not want to speak at this time.
BPD are investigating an incident of potential hazing that occurred at a fraternity house in Buffalo overnight on Custer Street. A UB student was rushed to the hospital with a serious medical condition believed to have resulted from the Incident.
Part of the police investigation is focusing on how long it took before a call was placed for emergency medical assistance, the other police source said.
There was a time lapse before emergency personnel were called, the police source said. Some valuable time may have been lost.
An official with the national office of Sigma Pi, headquartered in Lebanon, Tenn., said an attorney for the fraternity has been sent to Buffalo and an investigation is being conducted by the organization to determine what happened.
Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn said the fraternitys lawyer asked to review the Buffalo Police homicide squads files on the investigation, but the DA said he would not permit that.
“Absolutely not,” Flynn said. “I am not going to allow any outside entity to look at an internal investigation while it is being conducted.”
Buffalo Fire Department rescue personnel were believed to be the first on scene early Friday and they summoned police officers.
Serafin-Bazan of Port Chester, which is in Westchester County, resided in a university dormitory. Police said they believe it was on UBs North Campus. But he had been temporarily staying at the Custer Street residence, not far from UBs South Campus. A UB website identified him as a medical technology student.
“He had been pledging for the fraternity and if he had been accepted, he would have been able to live in the fraternity house,” that same police source said.
On Saturday afternoon, Erin McCarthy and Scott Malec, Buffalo homicide detectives, were seen removing items from the 2 1/2-story Custer Street house. Neighbors said a total of six fraternity brothers lived in the first- and second-floor apartments.
Erin McCarthy and Scott Malec, Buffalo homicide detectives, remove items from a house on Custer Street Saturday afternoon. (Lou Michel/Buffalo News)
With the weather warming up and sunny skies on Saturday, many UB students were outdoors in University Heights and expressed concern for their fellow student.
I dont participate in Greek life, but honestly I was not surprised. Everybody is upset. They are supposed to be brothers, said UB student Mike Horan. We all learned about this in an email from the university.”
The email from A. Scott Weber, UBs vice president for student life, stated that the student had been taken to the hospital with a serious medical condition believed to have occurred during a possible hazing.
Out of concern for the well-being of our student body, effective immediately, the official activities of all Greek-letter, social fraternal organizations are suspended, Weber stated. Specifically, these organizations are prohibited from recruiting and engaging in new member education activities; participating in university-related events on or off campus as a fraternity or sorority; and conducting meetings regarding fraternity or sorority functions or activities.”
Adams, the Custer Street neighbor, defended the fraternity brothers who live next door, saying that when she was in a wheelchair last year, several of the young men helped her up the steps and into her home.
Whenever they had a party, if it got too loud, they told us to let them know and they would quiet things down or send people home, Adams said. They have always been polite to us.
One of the police sources, who was not authorized to speak, expressed concern for Serafin-Bazans family.
I cant imagine the family down in Westchester County getting this call, the source said. The poor family. Our prayers go out to them.