The Death of Matthew Carrington: Why Didn’t They Help?

Matthew Carrington was a student at Chico State University, and was a pledge, in the Chi Tau fraternity house. Along with his friend(s), Carrington initiated the pledge, which was essentially hazing; it consisted of forceful push ups and trivia quizzes. Throughout the hazing, they were told to drink water from a 5 gallon jug, filled over and over. The pledges would urinate a vomit on each other, and then unfortunately, Carrington collapsed starting a seizure. He was taken to the hospital, but died of water intoxication on February 2, 2005 at the age of 21.

The extreme callisthenics alone was a questionable act, however the incident rose with discussions about how the 4 fraternity brothers and friends of Carrington reacted to the accident. Gabriel Maestretti, John Fickes, Carlos Abrille and Jerry Lim were sentenced to jail for man slaughter, after not calling the ambulance when Carrington collapsed.

There are some reasons that I believe why the fraternity brothers didn’t act immediately. One must be because they too, were mildly intoxicated by water, and therefore their thoughts weren’t functioning normally. The other must be because each of them were waiting for one another to make the first move, and it took a long time for each to decide who was going to take that action. Eventually, someone realised Carrington wasn’t breathing, but by then it was too late. The hesitation of taking responsibility is a psychological impact known as the bystander effect.


  • Korry, Elaine. “A Fraternity Hazing Gone Wrong“. 14 November, 2005. Web. December, 2015:
  • HeroicImaginationTV. “Bystander Effect – Death of Matthew Carrington“. 24 September, 2011. Online Video Clip. YouTube. December, 2015.

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