Clemson sophomore Tucker W. Hipps was found dead in a river this week after being reported missing from a fraternity run. The incident has sparked rumors of hazing and left the campus mourning the life of the well-liked 19-year-old.
Here’s what you know about Hipps and the circumstances surrounding his death.
1. Hipps’ Body Was Found in a Lake Between Two Bridges
— WIS News 10 (@wis10) September 24, 2014
A member of Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity, Tucker Hipps was found dead by a Clemson police officer on patrol searching for Hipps after he was reported missing.
“Tucker was participating in an early-morning group activity run with fraternity members. He didn’t return from the run and wasn’t at breakfast, so they began looking for him. Members of the fraternity contacted the Clemson University Police Department to report him missing at 1:45 p.m. Monday,” reads a statement from the university.
The coroner stated, “With the injury seen, it is consistent with him falling from one of the spans, which is approximately 20 to 23 feet above the water surface. He was found in a depth of water of 4-5 feet. The lake bottom in the area he fell is formed with riprap rock.”
2. Clemson Has Shut Down Frat Activity on Campus
A month into Clemson’s fall semester, the university has halted all social and new-member activities for Clemson’s two dozen fraternities in response to Hipps’ death and a high number of incidents reported on campus involving fraternities.
Due to incidents ranging from alcohol related medical emergencies to sexual misconduct, Clemson’s Student Affairs Vice President Gail DiSabatino said in a press release, “These behaviors are unacceptable and mandate swift and effective action to protect students. There is no higher priority than the safety and welfare of our students.”
Fraternity CEO Brian Warren stated, “This is a time for mourning, and our hearts and prayers are with the Hipps family. SigEp has a zero tolerance policy regarding hazing and is currently investigating these claims, but if foul play was involved in any way, Tucker’s fraternity will do everything it can to see that those responsible are brought to justice.”
— Charles Collins (@Sporkkkk) September 24, 2014
3. While There Is No Evidence of Hazing, Toxicology Results Are Pending
While some students have claimed Hipps’s death was the result of hazing, not an early morning run, Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw has stated there is currently no evidence to indicate hazing resulted in Hipps’s death.
However, the circumstances surrounding his death are still in question, and toxicology results could take several weeks.
4. He Was a Political Science Major With a ‘Great Work Ethic’
Hipps was a sophomore at Clemson and a political science major. He played football at Wren High School in South Carolina.
His high school coach, Jeff Tate, said he would be remembered on and off the field, saying, “He had a great work ethic and that was proven in the classroom and on the football field. He was one of the guys who you could depend on and who gave you great effort. He was going to give you all he had.”
5. Hipps Was Active in His Community
— Tucker Hipps (@TuckerHipps5) June 15, 2014
Hipps was a 12-year member of the Rock Springs Baptist Church, where he was active in the church’s youth group and church athletics, according to his pastor, Dr. David Gallamore.
Gallamore said, “When folks found out about it, they were very distraught. Tucker was very involved in our children’s ministry while he was in high school. He was just full of life and loves people and they in turn loved him.”
Max Fleming, a senior at Wren High, said, “Tucker was the most down-to-earth person I have ever met, he was always a great leader and always leading by example.”
Tucker’s girlfriend, Katie, shared a heartfelt message on her Facebook:
Students from other colleges wore orange and started an “Orange for Tucker” social media movement in support of Hipps.
I'm in for Solid Orange uni's on Saturday in remembrance of Tucker Hipps #SolidOrange4Tucker
— Tiger Talk (@TigerTalk_CU) September 24, 2014