Inside the Bus During Drum Major Robert Champion's Fatal Hazing


Drum Major Robert Champion's Hazing Death

"And so then it was over," Boyce said.

Champion asked for water and they gave him Gatorade. He complained that he was having trouble breathing and that he couldn't see, though his eyes were wide open.

Band members got him to the steps of the bus, but he continued to say that he could not breathe.

"I checked him, he wasn't saying anything…he wasn't responsive or anything," band member Darryl Cearnel told detectives. Cearnel said he had first aid training. "They was calling his name and [he] wasn't saying anything. And I checked his pulse."

They had Champion lay on the ground and someone called 911 while Cearnel did CPR.

"I don't even remember, like, if he even came back," he said. "I started doing CPR again, mouth to mouth, started doing chest compresses."

He said Champion vomited and Cearnel took off his shirt to wipe his mouth clean. Moments later an ambulance arrived. He died on the way to the hospital.

Though band members told detectives that Champion "never approved" of the hazing rituals, they also said that in order to be considered for leadership positions, one would have to have crossed over.

"Crossing over" was only one aspect of the band's hazing traditions. Multiple band members told investigators that they were routinely called to the back of the bus by a tap on the shoulder by older students for a "hot seat" after doing something wrong.

In the "hot seat" they would have a blanket thrown over them and they were pummeled with fists, drum sticks and bass drum mallets.

The bus driver and the band director who often sat in the front of the bus were unaware of the "hot seats" because they would be paying attention to the road or watching a movie, band members said.

"The word hazing is not what was actually done," Champion's mother Pam Champion said at a news conference Wednesday. She has maintained that her son was murdered and that he was not a violent person.

"My son would never sign up for this," she said. "Nobody in their right mind would sign up for this."

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