Medical Examiner: VCU freshman Adam Oakes died of alcohol poisoning

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Medical Examiner’s Office said the cause of death for Adam Oakes, the Virginia Commonwealth University freshman whose death is allegedly linked to a Delta Chi fraternity party, was alcohol poisoning.

Arkuie Williams with the Medical Examiner’s Office said the cause of death was “ethanol toxicity” and the manner of death was “an accident.”

Richmond Police are still investigating his death and say no charges have been filed in connection to his death at this time.

VCU Police said they have not received the Medical Examiner’s report but it will be included in the Richmond Police Department’s Investigation. Corey Byers, a spokesperson with VCU Police, said once the investigation has been completed, they will use it to determine what actions to take with the fraternity and individuals involved.

“Last month, VCU initiated disciplinary proceedings against the Delta Chi fraternity based on multiple reports and allegations of violations of university policies and directives in the hours before the death of VCU student Adam Oakes,” Byers said. “The results of that process are expected this summer.”

8News made a Freedom of Information Act request to the Medical Examiner’s office for Oakes’ autopsy report, toxicology report and blood alcohol content level at the time of his death. It was denied on May 25.

Courtney White, Oakes’ cousin, sent 8News the following statement about the Medical Examiner’s findings:

On behalf of our family, we are grateful for the thorough work completed on the part of the Medical Examiner’s Office in identifying ethanol toxicity, or alcohol poisoning, as Adam’s cause of death.  At this time, receiving the results feels similar to ripping a bandaid off an open wound.  We are all mourning his loss again as if it just happened yesterday.  Even though the results are unsurprising, it does not make it any easier to hear.  However, we now have the scientific evidence needed to confirm his death was caused by hazing, specifically the excessive amounts of alcohol the fraternity supplied and pressured him to drink that night at the Delta Chi Big/Little event.  The investigation is ongoing and as to not intrude or disrupt the work, we will not be divulging any further details at this time.  We ask that you not forget my cousin was a 19-year-old kid looking for acceptance and friends.  He had an amazing heart, a kind spirit, and the absolute best bear hug.  He had a bright future ahead with dreams of his own.  Those dreams will never be fulfilled because of one night, one group of boys, and one fraternity tradition—but also because of a greek system that regularly used hazing to control and coerce teenagers, endangering them, and in too many cases, ending in their death. Please educate, hug, and love your children. 

Courntey White

Adam Oakes, 19, of Loudoun County, died in an incident linked to the fraternity organization, which has since been suspended from VCU’s campus.

RPD said officers were called on the morning of Feb. 27 to the 100 block of West Clay Street at 9:16 a.m. for a report of a person down. When officers arrived they said they found Oakes down and unresponsive. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

A neighbor told 8News they saw and heard a large party at the Delta Chi house on Feb. 26, in the hours leading up to Oakes’ death.

Since the incident, Delta Chi has been suspended from VCU, and the college hired a third third-party firm to review campus Greek life. VCU said Dyad Strategies, the firm hired, specializes in cultural and risk assessment within fraternities and sororities.

While the investigation is still ongoing, VCU’s Division of Student Affairs wants the fraternity permanently removed from campus.

This is a breaking story, stay with 8News for updates.

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