Ex-fraternity brothers charged with felonies after night of partying leaves freshman blind, paralyzed

Two individuals, Ryan Patrick Delanty from Ballwin and Thomas Andrew Shultz from Chesterfield, have been charged in connection with an alleged hazing incident at the University of Missouri-Columbia. The incident resulted in 19-year-old student Daniel Santulli being left blind and unable to move or communicate independently.

As reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a grand jury in Boone County, Missouri, indicted Delanty and Shultz on felony hazing charges, along with misdemeanor counts of furnishing liquor to a juvenile or an intoxicated person.

6-year-old conversed with Jesus while experiencing a near-death episode in the hospital
Photo courtesy Tom Santulli

Delanty is approximately 20 years old, while Shultz is 21, as mentioned in the article.

Santulli’s parents, Thomas and Mary Pat, are actively searching for their son and have taken legal action against the fraternity, Phi Gamma Delta, the homeowner, and 23 members. The family has filed a lawsuit, and most of the defendants have reached settlements outside of court, with the exception of two individuals, as reported by the Post-Dispatch.

Additionally, Shultz is facing an additional felony charge for tampering with physical evidence in a criminal prosecution, as reported by the Columbia Missourian.

David Bianchi, the lawyer representing the Santulli family, describes this incident as the most severe fraternity hazing injury ever recorded in the United States. With 30 years of experience in handling similar cases, he is familiar with the complex legal landscape and the defense attorneys representing fraternities. The consensus among all parties involved is that this is an exceptionally severe situation.

As stated in the complaint, on the evening of October 19, 2021, Santulli attended the fraternity house for an event called “Pledge Dad Reveal Night.” Prior to this, he had been subjected to repeated instances of cleaning the brothers’ rooms and delivering food, wine, and marijuana to them at all hours of the night. Additionally, he was instructed to crawl into a garbage can containing broken glass, resulting in a significant cut on his foot that required stitches and left him dependent on crutches.

6-year-old conversed with Jesus while experiencing a near-death episode in the hospital
Photo courtesy Tom Santulli

As per the lawsuit, Shultz, serving as the fraternity president, had obtained the alcohol for the evening’s activities. Delanty, who acted as Santulli’s pledge father, provided him with a large bottle of vodka and instructed him to consume it in its entirety.

Another fraternity brother, Alec Wetzler from St. Louis, poured beer into Santulli’s mouth using a funnel.

According to the allegations, Santulli was left on a couch with a blood alcohol level of.468, while another member observed his deteriorating condition but failed to take any action. Santulli eventually fell from the couch, landing face down on the floor, exhibiting pale skin and blue lips. Members eventually transported him to the hospital, where medical professionals discovered that he had stopped breathing and experienced cardiac arrest. He was resuscitated and put on a ventilator.

According to the complaint, several days later, he was removed from the ventilator and able to breathe on his own, but he remained unresponsive, unaware of his surroundings, unable to speak, and suffered a significant brain injury. His condition has shown no improvement even nine months later.

As stated in the lawsuit, two days prior to the hazing incident, Santulli had a tearful conversation with his sister over the phone, expressing his distress regarding the fraternity initiation process. His family pleaded with him to end his involvement in the pledging activities.

6-year-old conversed with Jesus while experiencing a near-death episode in the hospital
New York Post

According to the lawsuit, Santulli was determined to prove himself and avoid the potential embarrassment and ridicule from those within the fraternity. The defendants were fully aware of his mindset and had previously witnessed his commitment.

Recently, Wetzler faced charges of providing alcohol to a minor and possessing alcohol as a minor in relation to the incident. Bianchi, the Santulli family lawyer, stated his belief that the Boone County prosecutor will pursue additional criminal charges against Shultz and Delanty.

In May, the University of Missouri announced the expulsion of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity chapter from the campus, along with disciplinary actions taken against 13 individuals involved. The specific consequences were not disclosed.

President Mun Choi expressed that the well-being of the university community is their top priority. They emphasized the need for comprehensive discussions on alcohol use and related issues to promote a safer environment. They also acknowledged the collaboration with student leaders in their ongoing efforts to enhance campus safety, while recognizing that there is still more work to be done.

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