Alcohol Likely Factor In College Student's Death
Fraternity Brother Slept While On Watch
POSTED: 4:22 p.m. CDT September 15, 2003
UPDATED: 7:47 a.m. CDT September 16, 2003
CHICAGO -- A college student from the suburbs died after a weekend fraternity event.
Robert Schmalz (pictured, left), 22, was found dead in his off-campus apartment at Bradley University Sunday night.
VIDEO REPORT: Student Dies
NBC 5's Amy Jacobson reported that it happened during a fraternity event named the "Calling Out Ceremony," the last night of fall rush at Bradley University.
The Peoria County Coroner suspects alcohol may have killed the 22-year-old.
"He was a wonderful young man (who) would have graduated in December," said Laura Zilly (pictured, below right), a neighbor of the Schmalz family, in Roselle. Robert Schmalz grew up across the street from Zilly.
"He's been part of my family since he was 3-years-old," Zilly said through tears, "and he was such a good kid."
He was a fifth year senior at Bradley and a member of Phi Kappa Tau.
Jacobson spoke to other neighbors who remember his love for the fraternity.
"He was really into the fraternity. He liked it a lot and had a lot of friends there," said friend and neighbor, Dustin Haney.
On Sunday night, Peoria police said, Schmalz died allegedly after a weekend of drinking. It was bid night and he reportedly drank Friday night, all day Saturday and began drinking again at 8 a.m. on Sunday.
By 6 p.m., police say, he didn't feel well and a fraternity brother was assigned to take him home and watch him. Jacobson said that person apparently fell asleep, "or passed out," and Schmalz was found dead on his bedroom floor.
It's unfortunate that somebody there didn't realize ... what could happen," said Roselle neighbor Scott Haney.
On Monday, Robert's parents were to meet with university and fraternity officials.
The 22-year-old was arrested back in August, charged with a DUI after a car accident in an alley. His blood alcohol level was .169. Roselle residents told Jacobson that they hope young people will learn something from this tragedy, specifically about the dangers of alcohol.
"It has to stop. There are too many young people that have died like this and it's a tragedy," said Zilly.
Officials from Bradley University released a statement Monday saying they take the issue of alcohol awareness very seriously. They are reviewing the fraternity and sorority tradition of "bid night."
Jacobson said counselors were also on campus to help Schmalz's roommates and friends.