Transcript for Parents mourn son who died after night of drinking and alleged hazing at LSU fraternity
I mean, this shouldn't have happened. Shouldn't happen to anybody. Reporter: The tragic news of the death of ray Ann and Steven Gruber's 18-year-old son max came with a phone call. They said they had worked on max for 45 minutes, but there was nothing they could do. It's -- the worst call anyone could ever get. You never expect it. Reporter: It was September 14th. Police say hours earlier, Gruber was at Louisiana state university's phi delta theta house, going through a ritual where if you don't answer questions correctly you drink alcohol. He had a blool alcohol level of .495%. And that was the next day. So that night I'm sure it was -- it's enough to kill you. Reporter: A few weeks later, 10 current and former members of that fraternity arrested. According to officials potentially facing charges ranging from misdemeanor hazing to felony negligent homicide. Was your son murdered? Yes. I believe so. Nobody can physically drink that much. You can't. You have to be forced to drink it. Senseless. It's terrible. How is making your brother do all these things, humiliating somebody, a brotherhood? How does that bond you? That's what I don't understand. Reporter: The irony is that the groovers had done something that many parents of kids in college don't do. You were parents who also investigated. And didn't just say, sure, join a fraternity. Tell me what you did. You did a lot of due diligence. We went on the computer. We looked up on their national chapter. There was no hazing. No hazing. There was an alcohol-free house. We thought, that's great, that's awesome. Great, max really did a good job, we were hook, line and sinker. Like, our son made a great decision with this fraternity. Reporter: They weren't aware of two complaints made to the school by a concerned student and alumnus nearly a year before max's death, reports some members of that fraternity were excessively drinking, using drugs, and hazing pledges. Following an investigation by the university, the practice te fraternity was given a one-month suspension in 2016. Did you know of any past complaints about that fraternity? No. Because if we had found out, just a year ago a fraternity had had a mazing incident, we might be like with max, like, I don't know that this is the one for you. Reporter: They offered this advice to other parents. If you're thinking about a fraternity, ask around about them. Don't look at their marketing pieces. Because they're showing you all the positives there. Ask older students. Ask kids that have been around that school for a long time. Reporter: But they did believe lsu was the right school for their@ son. This photo showing them dropping max off at school, together for the last time. Little did I know. I actually have a picture of the last hug. Reporter: After max's death, phi delta theta wants the authorities to prosecute those responsible to the fullest extent of the law. A spokesperson from lsu told ABC news that after max's death, the fraternity was placed on interim suspension by the university and that later the fraternity's national organization revoked the charter at lsu. The university also created a Greek life task force to review the culture and environment present on lsu's campus in order to highlight best practices and eliminate any negative or potentially harmful behavior. The potential charges facing the ten former fraternity brothers are pending a grand jury. You have Tennessee people arrested on a pretty minor crime, maximum 30 days. In jail. But one of them with a serious crime where he could face up to five years. I think there needs to be a much better job done of reminding freshmen in college that hazing can be criminal. Reporter: ABC news reached out to attorneys for the arrested young men. Some didn't respond. Others declined to comment at this time. But the defense attorney for the student potentially facing the negligent homicide charge told us in a statement, I can't imagine the pain that Mr. And Mrs. Groover must be going through. I think we should let the grand jury hear all of the evidence, apply the law, and render the decision. And a lawyer for another student told us his client was hardly present at the house that night. Whose responsibility is it ultimately? Is it the university, is it the chapters, is it both? I think it's a combination of both. I think even at the state levels, some states have where you can call 911 and not get in trouble if you're in that situation. Because they shouldn't be trying to cover it up, hide it, not call, let's see what he does. Reporter: And ray Ann and Steven created these purple bracelets to remind kids to speak up when they see excessive drinking. They say it's already helped save lives. What's your message to students? That they need to step up. If they see something is wrong. Feel empowered. You could possibly be saving somebody's life. Reporter: They say they draw strength from an essay max wrote when he was 15 years old. They found it in his room after he had passed. He says, god works in funny ways. Sometimes he does bad to ultimately create good. He wrote that. He wrote that. So that's given us a lot of strength. Yes, a lot. And perseverance to really try to create change. Reporter: Also helping ray Ann and Steven through this dark time, a family with a tragically similar story. Evelyn and Jim piazza lost their son Timmy last February. A beta thetapi pledge, Timothy was at a fraternity ant where he allegedly participated in a drinking challenge called the gauntlet. They bring the pledges and make them drink copious amounts of alcohol quickly. Reporter: Prosecutors say he consumed at least 18 drinks of beer, wine, and vodka, all in just an hour and 22 minutes. It's awful how much of a coordinated effort that this crew kind of took upon themselves to get him and these other pledges so drunk. Reporter: Piazza eventually suffering a catastrophic fall, tumbling 15 feet down a flight of stairs. But according to a grand jury report, no one immediately called for help. And when someone finally did call 911, 12 hours after the fall -- What's going on today? Uh, we have -- we have a friend who's unconscious. He hasn't moved. Probably going to need an ambulance. Reporter: It was too late. He was covered with warming blankets. We were trying to find a spot of skin to touch. The nurse told me to kiss him good-bye. It was hard. Reporter: 26 members of the beta theta pi fraternity face charges connected to the incident. ABC reached out to all the defendants and those that responded deny the charges. Piazza and groover, just two of the four young men who have died in alleged fraternity hazing incidents this the year. The groovers say the parents of those young men have been a tremendous support for them as they cope with the unimaginable. We'll say something to each other, like I hate that we met this way but I'm so happy we have each other. They've guided me a lot. In just a little amount of time. We've gotten very close. Reporter: For "Nightline" I'm Amy robach in Roswell, Georgia.
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