In Waco, Texas, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed against the Sigma Chi Fraternity at Baylor University, following a 2009 fraternity party which plaintiffs claim led to the death of Megan Helal. The 19 year old Helal was found dead on the floor of one of the fraternity member’s apartment. She and other students were brought on a bus to attend the party — the lawsuit makes the allegation that liquor was present at the party and served to multiple students under the legal drinking age of 21.
When paramedics arrived at the apartment, Helal was unresponsive and not breathing. She was taken to Waco’s Hillcrest Baptist Medical center, and staff pronounced her dead shortly after her arrival.
The lawsuit claims that Helal’s death was a direct result of drinking too much alcohol at the party; alcohol supplied by members of the fraternity. The lawsuit was filed after the Waco Police Department and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission performed an extensive investigation into the events of the party. Helal’s autopsy showed that the student athlete died as a result of cardiac arrhythmia resulting from myocardial fibrosis, the cause of which was undetermined. The autopsy also conflicts with the lawsuit, as the coroner said that Helal’s death was the result of natural causes and not directly caused by alcohol. However, the investigation by the police and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission led to warrants being issued for the bar’s owner, the fraternity’s social chair, and two bartenders.
The Dallas attorney representing Helal’s parents in the lawsuit, released the following statement: “fraternities at colleges and universities across the nation continue to engage in reckless conduct, frequently with alcohol, that results in injuries and deaths of bright young people.”
Helal’s parents said through their attorney that their motivation in filing the lawsuit is to draw attention to the dangerous behavior of fraternities, and the deaths that sometimes occur as a result of such behavior. It is likely they will file evidence challenging the coroner’s report that alcohol was not involved in Helal’s death.