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Proposed House bill would protect those calling for help in college hazing incidents

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

A lawmaker is proposing a bill that he believes would help protect college students in Missouri who report hazing.

This comes after some college students in Missouri as well as elsewhere in the country have suffered serious injuries or death following acts of hazing on campuses.

Many of these incidents involve heavy consumption of alcohol in a short period of time. One case, the Danny Santulli case, at the University of Missouri, has garnered national attention.

Santulli was left unable to walk, talk or see after suffering a traumatic brain injury following excessive alcohol consumption during an alleged-hazing incident. Multiple fraternity members have been charged in that case.

David Bianchi is the lawyer that represented the Santulli family.

He helped with a bill in Florida that is very similar to House Bill 240.

"Ask any mother or father of a hazing victim and they will tell you the same thing," Bianchi said. "They would much rather have their son live than criminally prosecute the person who did it.

Santulli's family alleges those same members didn't call 911 when Santulli became unresponsive and clearly needed emergency medical attention.

Rep. Travis Smith's proposal would protect someone who calls 911 during an act of hazing -- or stays on the scene to provide aid to someone until emergency services arrive -- from being charged with hazing.

"A lot of times, it's no different than overdoses with any other kind of drug or alcohol," Smith (R-Dora) said. "If you get in the emergency room in time, there's a lot of things they can do to pump out the stomach, get that alcohol out of their system and save their life."

Smith said it's important to remember many of these students are young and situations like this are frightening.

"When you get into a situation where someones life is threatened, you got to get first responders there as quick as possible and the kids have to know they're not gonna go to prison because they did the right thing and saved a life," Smith said.

According to Smith, who's an alumni of the University of Missouri and participated in Greek Life, many students who are coming to school are unfamiliar with alcohol and the appropriate amounts to drink.

"You always think of fraternity guys, they're the party guys," Smith said. "The truth of the matter is, a lot of these kids are coming into this environment for the first time and they're not used to it especially not hard alcohol."

The legislative session begins Wednesday.

Article Topic Follows: Missouri Politics

Ethan Heinz

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