Cause of death released for Loudoun Co. freshman who died after VCU fraternity party

A Virginia Commonwealth University freshman from Loudoun County, who was found dead after attending a fraternity party in February, died of alcohol poisoning, according to the Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Adam Oakes’ cause of death was ethanol toxicity, which is the formal name for alcohol poisoning. The medical examiner said the manner of death was accidental.

Richmond police are still investigating Oakes’ death.

A statement from VCU provided to WTOP Tuesday said that the university has not yet received the medical examiner’s full report but that it would be included in the police investigation.

“Once that investigation is complete, we will use it to determine what actions to take regarding organizations and individuals involved,” the university said.

In the statement, the university, which issued a cease-and-desist order against the Delta Chi fraternity after Oakes’ death, said it initiated disciplinary proceedings against the fraternity last month “based on multiple reports and allegations of violations of university policies and directives in the hours before the death of VCU student Adam Oakes.”

The results of that process are expected this summer, according to the university’s statement.

In a letter to the university community in March, Senior Vice Provost Charles Klink said the university was launching an “independent, comprehensive review” of fraternities and sororities on the campus.

“Simply put, this cannot happen again,” Klink said, calling Oakes a student “who had a promising future ahead of him.”

Oakes’ family has attributed his death to hazing.

Oakes’ cousin, Courtney White, told The Richmond Times-Dispatch that Oakes was at a Delta Chi fraternity event when he was given a bottle of whiskey, told to drink it and was blindfolded. Oakes then ran into a tree and hit his head, she said. He was found unresponsive early Feb. 27.

At a memorial service in March, Oakes’ family said it was starting an organization to inform high school students of the possible dangers of Greek life on college campuses. White said the aim was “to make sure these organizations understand that hazing and other barbaric forms of pressure are not acceptable in our society.”

Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined WTOP.com as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at Nextgov.com, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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