COLUMBIA, Mo. — A 19-year-old University of Missouri alumnus is confined to a wheelchair, blind and unable to speak after his parents say he was the victim of a gross harassment last fall.
Danny Santulli’s family filed a lawsuit over the incident. Family attorney David Bianchi spoke to FOX 2 about the details emerging from the lawsuit against Santulli’s former fraternity brothers.
“It’s impossible to have damage worse than Danny Santulli and still be alive,” Bianchi said Thursday. “As a result of what they did to him he has massive brain damage, he has lost his eyesight. So he’s blind, he can’t walk and he can’t communicate in any way.”
According to the lawsuit, Santulli was ordered to drink a liter of vodka during a fraternity event in October. As of Thursday, no one had been charged in the case, Bianchi said.
The 55-page suit describes the incident, explaining that Santulli attended the “Pledge Dad Reveal Night” at Mizzou’s home in Phi Gamma Delta and drank so much he became unresponsive.
“Danny Santulli came within inches of death, except fortunately his heart was revived at the hospital,” Bianchi said.
The lawsuit states that Danny’s father “presented Danny with the ‘family bottle’ of Tito’s vodka, which Danny was to consume in its entirety before the end of the event.”
Danny was then chosen by other members to drink a beer from a tube. The lawsuit names Alex Wetzler as the brother who made Danny drink the beer.
“He put the tube in Danny’s mouth after Danny had already downed about half a bottle of vodka using a funnel at the end of the tube,” Bianchi said. “Then he then poured beer through the tube into Danny’s mouth while he was about to drink vodka.”
The lawsuit then went on to say that just before midnight, Danny was sitting on a couch in “extreme distress and with a blood alcohol content of 0.468%.” That’s almost six times the legal limit in Missouri.
Thirty minutes later, at around 12:30 a.m., Danny partially slid off the couch and ended up with his face on the floor, but he had no control of his arms or legs and stayed there until someone walking across the room caught him again laid on the couch. The lawsuit names Samuel Gandhi as the fraternity brother who left after putting Santulli back on the couch.
“The surveillance video shows that he looked after Danny for about 45 minutes before Danny was absolutely gone, and just when Danny needed him the most, he got up and went home,” Bianchi said.
According to the lawsuit, Santulli’s “skin was pale and his lips were blue, but no one called 911.” Instead, the decision was made to drive Danny to Columbia University Hospital in one of the brother’s cars. The lawsuit states: “When they arrived, hospital staff went to the car only to find that Danny was not breathing and was in cardiac arrest. CPR was administered and Danny’s heart restarted.”
Santulli was then taken to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and put on a ventilator. Days later, he was removed from the ventilator and able to breathe on his own, but he was still unresponsive, oblivious to his surroundings, unable to communicate, and had significant brain injury.
“I think each of these fraternity members is as culpable as the next because they were all involved in the planning,” Bianchi said.
Bianchi said the Santulli family had previously sued 23 people, including the fraternity, and won their case. The lawsuit has since been amended to include two individual fraternity brothers: Gandhi and Wetzler.
Bianchi said eight months later no charges had been filed.
“I think the people of the Mizzou community and the people of the state of Missouri have to say this is unacceptable, this should never happen again, it has to stop,” Bianchi said. “You have to put pressure on the university and the prosecutor’s office to do something about it.”
In May, the University of Missouri announced that 13 students had received disciplinary sanctions for the incident, but did not provide any specific information. Shortly after the October event, Mizzou drove the fraternity off campus and the house was shut down.
Days before the incident, the lawsuit said Danny’s sister went to the sorority house to see Danny and “for the first time in his life he broke down and cried to her.”
Danny told his sister he was exhausted and couldn’t take being in the fraternity any longer. The suit says his sister “realized that he was suffering from overwhelming depression and fatigue.” After she and her parents tried to tell Danny to leave Phi Gamma Delta, Danny said he was not a quitter and “did not want to be humiliated and ridiculed by those he chose to join.”
The lawsuit also mentioned what Danny had to do for the older fraternity brothers before Pledge Night.
“He suffered from sleep deprivation, had to buy things for the fraternity brothers with his own money, and was repeatedly ordered to clean the brothers’ rooms and bring them food, alcohol and marijuana at all hours of the night,” the suit claims.
During his lien suit, the suit claims Danny was ordered to climb into a trash can with the glass broken, resulting in a bad cut on his foot and he had to go to the hospital for stitches and crutches.
This isn’t the first time Phi Gamma Delta has run into trouble at Mizzou. The fraternity has a track record of alcohol-related violations in 2017, 2019, 2020 and 2021. Less than two months prior to the bullying incident, Phi Gamma Delta violated university policies and alcohol distribution, sanctioning the fraternity alcohol education program and probation in alcohol events.
The Boone County Attorney’s Office did not respond as to why no charges were filed in this case.
https://fox2now.com/news/missouri/hazing-incident-leaves-mizzou-student-unable-to-see-talk-or-walk/ Due to an incident of hazing, the Mizzou student cannot see, speak, or walk