- Associated Press - Thursday, August 13, 2015

PICKENS, S.C. (AP) - A Clemson University student who was pledging for a fraternity had been forced to walk along a narrow bridge railing before falling to his death, according to recently filed court documents.

New filings in a $25 million lawsuit filed by his family allege that’s what happened before Tucker Hipps fell to his death in September, local media outlets reported Thursday.

An autopsy showed that Hipps died from injuries consistent with having hit rocks in the shallow water near the end of a bridge over Lake Hartwell in South Carolina. According to the lawsuits, toxicology reports showed the teen hadn’t been drinking or taking any drugs before he died.

Hipps’ family is suing the university, the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity and three of its members, saying they are to blame for the death and tried to cover it up after the fact.

They have filed two lawsuits in which they say Hipps was hazed during a pre-dawn run involving fraternity members and pledges, and fraternity brothers tried to cover up their role in his death by deleting text messages, phone calls and changing their phone numbers.

Denying any responsibility, Clemson and members of Hipps’ fraternity have asked a judge to dismiss the case and have blamed Hipps for his own death. Clemson has suspended Sigma Phi Epsilon for five years.

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