Did computer science major Raphael Nuñez, Jr. (nicknamed "Ralphy")--in his pot, Ecstasy and jungle-juice fueled stupor--mistakenly wander onto the 405 freeway before being struck and killed by two vehicles the night of May 7, 2009?
Or, as claimed in the wrongful death lawsuit filed against UCI by Nuñez's parents, was he taking part in a fraternity hazing ritual?
Actually, you might want to check to make sure you're not being sued, too. The Regents of the University of California, Sigma Pi (UCI, Nationals, and advisers), Alpha Epsilon Pi (UCI, Nationals, and advisers), the bus company Delta Tours, the Shark Club in Costa Mesa, security guards and 200 John Does (UCI students) are among the 215 defendants named in Orange County Superior Court documents.
This much everyone agrees on: Nuñez and some pals attended a film festival at UCI that fateful evening before they boarded a bus chartered by Alpha Epsilon Pi bound for the Thursday night college night at the Shark Club. Alpha Epsilon Pi sponsored the party along with Nuñez's frat, Sigma Pi.
Aboard the bus, witnesses would later say Nuñez and his friends consumed "jungle juice"--a sweet mixture of vodka and fruit juices--on the way to the Costa Mesa nightclub. The bus arrived at 10:30 p.m., but Nuñez was quickly kicked out of the club.
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Here's where it gets hazy. Nuñez's friends say they did not realize their friend had been bounced from the club. The frats obviously haven't fessed up to forcing the young man to go take a long walk off a short freeway connector.
Nevertheless, that's where he was and what he was trying to do: cross the 405 freeway near Bristol Street. He was first hit while running from the center divider toward the right shoulder of the northbound lanes, and then by the second vehicle. The county coroner later confirmed Nuñez's blood alcohol level was 0.29 and that there were traces of marijuana and Ecstacy in his system.
Campus officials suspended Sigma Pi and Alpha Epsilon Pi for their roles in an underage drinker getting blasted on their bus and sponsored event. Meanwhile, online campus news source Zot Report discovered the following allegations in the complaint filed May 13 and seeking "wrongful death damages" and a jury trial:
- In actuality, the Event had nothing to do with philanthropy but was a ruse to transport, in junket-style, busloads of intoxicated students from the UCI campus to an off-campus bar.
- On the way to The Shark Club defendants turned a blind eye to the distribution of alcoholic beverages and Ecstasy (or other illegal substances) to the Event.
- At all relevant times, the local police, UCI campus police and the Regents were aware of a fraternity hazing ritual that required intoxicated members of fraternities to run across freeways.
- The defendants breached their mandatory duty under Civil Code 2100 . . . by failing to take a head count of Event attendees upon departing The Shark Club to make sure all Event attendees who were on the buses going to The Shark Club were present on the buses returning to the UCI campus.