Surviving pledge describes horror
Horrific details from the night of 21-year-old Matthew Carrington’s death by hazing came to light last week, when his surviving Chi Tau pledge brother testified in court.
Michael Quintana, who went through the harrowing ordeal with Carrington, took the stand for more than seven hours on Friday, June 3, as Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey and seven defense attorneys questioned the 20-year-old Chico State University student about the events of initiation week, better known to pledges as “hell week.”
Quintana testified at such length during a conditional hearing because he plans to study abroad in August and won’t be available during the trial.
After Quintana’s testimony, Superior Court Judge Stephen Benson ruled that there was enough evidence for seven former members of Chi Tau to stand trial for Carrington’s death. All seven are charged with misdemeanor hazing, and four face additional felony charges of involuntary manslaughter.
Family and friends of Carrington, in court nearly 10 hours last Friday, were at times visibly shaken as Quintana recounted the last days of Matthew’s life.
“During that week, they pretty much ran every part of your life,” Quintana said, explaining that he and Carrington were told they couldn’t talk to girls, smoke or drink alcohol.
During his testimony Quintana said “hell week,” which began on the evening of Jan. 30, was filled with long nights of strenuous physical activity, sleep deprivation and bizarre fraternity rituals.
Quintana testified that they were told “movie night” would be “psychological.” The evening began at 11 p.m. on Feb. 1 and lasted until the early morning hours, when Carrington succumbed to the effects of water intoxication.
Quintana said they were taken to the basement that night and told to do one hour’s worth of pushups and sit-ups called “pledge positions.” They were then told to split a raw onion and eat two cloves of garlic each, referred to by fraternity members as the “pledge apple” and “pledge candy.”
The movie began around midnight, and the pledges were told to stand on a bench on one foot and drink large amounts of water from a five-gallon Alhambra bottle. They were also instructed to keep there eyes directed on “the nasty nassof,” a white shoe dangling from the rafters, until told otherwise. Quintana said they occasionally had to pour the water over their heads while three fans blasted them with cold air. By that time, they were wearing only blue jeans, and Quintana said he could see his breath vaporizing in the cold air.
He said he was already feeling the effects of water intoxication after the first bottle and that he and Carrington vomited in a trash can and urinated on themselves several times throughout the night. The pledges also did several sets of pushups, while fraternity members yelled and threw beer cans at them. According to Quintana, the bottle was filled six times. At approximately 4 a.m., Carrington went into a seizure, muscles flexing, before his body relaxed and he appeared to be sleeping.
About an hour later, Quintana noticed that Carrington had stopped “snoring.”
“I felt a faint breath go to nothing,” Quintana recalled.
Quintana said he performed resuscitative breathing on Carrington, who was bleeding from his nose and mouth.
By then, paramedics were called, but it was too late. Carrington was pronounced dead at Enloe Medical Center just after 6 a.m.
During cross-examination, several defense attorneys asked Quintana if he felt in any way responsible for Carrington’s death.
Quintana said he suggested calling the paramedics several times but trusted other fraternity members that Carrington would be all right.
“I feel a lot of guilt for not being stronger for Matt.”