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Tom Santulli speaks out on anniversary of the night that left his son, Danny, disabled

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Editors Note: This story has been corrected to say the university fraternity officers knew about the fraternity event ahead of time, according to Tom Santulli.

As the one-year anniversary of an alleged hazing incident -- at the University of Missouri's Phi Gamma Delta fraternity that left a freshman pledge disabled -- approaches, the family of the young man continues to speak out.

Danny Santulli was left unable to walk, talk or see after suffering a traumatic brain injury that night.

Santulli is currently receiving oxygen treatment in New Orleans, his parents and doctors are hopeful it will improve his condition.

Tom Santulli, Danny's father, told ABC 17 News about that early morning on Oct. 19, 2021, when they were alerted Danny was in the hospital

"We received a phone call about 1:30 a.m. in the morning. I told my wife you better pick that up because when you get a call at 1:30 in the morning it's usually not a good phone call," Tom said. "It was the emergency room doctor telling us that Danny is on a breathing machine he went into cardiac arrest and you should get down here."

In a panic, the Santulli's drove seven-and-a-half hours from Minnesota to University Hospital, where they learned Danny's heart had stopped due to alcohol poisoning. Danny's blood-alcohol level was five times the legal limit to drive.

Tom was unaware of any event at the fraternity that night.

"No one knew there was a 'pledge-dad reveal night.' It was kept a big secret," Tom said. 

The fraternity had received its second sanction 13 days prior, and was not permitted to hold events.

From Oct. 19-Dec. 8, Danny was in the intensive care unit at University Hospital. Once he was stable enough, he went to a hospital in Colorado where he did inpatient rehab. On May 25, the Santulli's were able to bring Danny home.

"Our life has changed 100%. My wife is the main caretaker and she had to give up her job," Tom said. "It effected my son and daughter Nick and Meredith, both their lives have been turned upside down."

Tom said only one member of the fraternity has reached out to the family express concern about Danny.

Eli Manning sent Danny his best wishes.

As for Danny's condition, Tom said he is improving but has a long road ahead.

"We say, 'Danny we're going to get you better. You have to stay strong,' and he hears it," Tom said. "And lately, he does have a couple of tears here and there. So there's more emotion coming out of him.

"It's baby-step improvements but baby steps is a big deal to us."

Over time, Danny's family learned more about the hazing incident, how the university fraternity officers knew about the event ahead of time, and how students who saw Danny that night didn't call 911. This resulted in lawsuits and 11 students are charged with felony hazing.

Tom Santulli said whatever happens he hopes the law is followed.

A vigil for Danny will be held Wednesday night at Peace Park.

Article Topic Follows: News
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Leila Mitchell

Leila is a Penn State graduate who started with KMIZ in March 2021. She studied journalism and criminal justice in college.

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