We now know the blood alcohol level of a Fresno State freshman who died last month. The Fresno County Coroner says 18 year-old Philip Dhanens died from complications of acute alcohol intoxication. His blood alcohol level was 0.36. The fraternity pledge had been drinking heavily at a Theta Chi party. He died the next morning at the hospital.
In his first month as a college freshman, Dhanens, a former Garces High School football player and prom king, had his life cut short after a party at Theta Chi. Now, the coroner confirms that alcohol is what killed him.
“The amount of alcohol it takes to cause death can vary depending on the individual’s prior experience and biological variability, but in this case it was enough,” said Dr. David Hadden, Fresno County Coroner.
Monday afternoon, one month after Dhanens’ death, the coroner releases the results of the toxicology report. Aside from alcohol, no other drugs were found in his system. The chief forensic pathologist says Dhanens was probably not an experienced drinker.
“In this case, we had swelling of the brain, and we could have had some amount of aspiration, that's why we're calling it complications following alcohol consumption,” said Dr. Venu Gopal, Chief Forensic Pathologist.
He says Dhanens' death may not have been prevented even if he'd gotten to the hospital sooner. A Fresno State student who preaches responsible drinking hopes this tragic incident may have a positive effect.
“I don't think it's necessarily going to decrease the amount of alcohol consumption, hopefully it decreases the rates of binge drinking, where students consume a large amount of alcohol at one time,” said Rosendo Iniguez, part of the Drug and Alcohol Awareness and Guide.
Dr. Hadden has a college-age son himself and he hopes all young people learn that drinking is not only bad for you, it can kill you.
“It just breaks your heart when you see a young man, full of promise, who succumbs to the toxic effect of alcohol,” said Hadden.
Since Dhanens was under the legal drinking age, Fresno police are still investigating who may be responsible for providing him alcohol.
Statement by Dr. Paul M. Oliaro, vice president for student affairs:
The report from the Fresno County Coroner confirms our fears that excessive drinking caused Philip’s death. This tragedy continues to deeply touch our campus and once again, we offer our sincere condolences to Philip’s family as they receive this news.
The university’s suspension of recognition of Theta Chi Fraternity remains in effect. We are awaiting the Fresno Police Department report of events at the off-campus fraternity house.