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MANY SEARCH FOR ANSWERS TO TRAGIC DEATH

Friday night was supposed to be a night of celebration for Scott Krueger, an MIT freshman from Orchard Park.

That was the night he and the 10 other freshmen living in the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house were assigned their "big brothers."

Then, as college kids are wont to do, they partied. Or, as Massachusetts Institute of Technology officials put it, they socialized and held a "celebratory" event.

The group reportedly drank beer at the beginning of the evening before turning to hard liquor, but it's not clear what Krueger drank and whether he was being pressured into drinking.

By the time midnight tolled, Krueger, 18, had lapsed into an alcohol-induced unconsciousness, with a reported blood-alcohol count of 0.41. Less than three days later, he died in a Boston hospital.

Now authorities want to know what happened Friday night to the former Orchard Park High School scholar and athlete, a twin who ranked seventh in his class, lettered in three varsity sports, captained one of them and became a
highly respected class leader.

From Cambridge, Mass., to Orchard Park, the question kept getting asked Tuesday:

Why?

"Scott was no partier, not a drinker," said Gene Tundo, his varsity lacrosse coach in his junior and senior years. "Scott was a model kid."

"We (faculty and parents) talk a lot about how to keep kids alive," Tundo added. "Basically, it's keeping them away from drugs, booze and cars, and here we have a wonderful kid gone because of alcohol.

"All I want to know is 'why' -- was it because he didn't have any street smarts? Was it because he took a challenge or a dare? I hope we find out because this just doesn't make a lot of sense."

Krueger's mother, Darlene, told the Boston Globe her son didn't drink before attending college.

"Someone had to practically force the alcohol down his throat for him to have drunk that much alcohol," she told the newspaper.

Authorities not only are asking why, they're asking how.

"We have no indication that there was any hazing," Robert J. Sales, assistant director of the MIT news office, said Tuesday. "The kids tell us there was no hazing going on."

Senior Dean Robert M. Randolph described the evening's activities as a celebratory event.

"Nevertheless," he added, "underaged students shouldn't be drinking."

The drinking age in Massachusetts is 21. Campus officials said when they find out about underage drinking they take action against those students.

The Boston police homicide unit is investigating Krueger's death. Police officials declined to comment Tuesday on possible charges, saying only that their investigation is continuing.

"From what we understand, there were beer bottles on the floor, along with vomit," said Officer Kevin Jones, a department spokesman.

According to MIT and police officials, someone in the fraternity house called campus police at 11:56 p.m. Friday.

Because the fraternity house is in Boston, less than two miles from the MIT campus in Cambridge, Boston police were called at midnight to check on an unconscious person.

Emergency medical crews and police found Krueger unconscious and unresponsive, rushing him to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

He reportedly never regained consciousness and died Monday night, when he was removed from life support.

On Tuesday at Orchard Park High School, some of the students who knew Krueger, mostly this year's seniors, met with the Crisis Response Team to talk about their grief and remember their friend.

Krueger played lacrosse largely to be with friends, but he was a natural leader with a huge amount of drive and spirit, Tundo said.

A 145-pound wrestler, Krueger missed the second half of the season because of a shoulder injury, wrestling coach Doug DeLozier said.

Krueger didn't have to come to practice, but as team captain, he led the team in its stretching exercises, helped supervise and handled many of the details.

"He was the kind of kid you'd want to be team captain," DeLozier said. "He was a natural leader."

The same could be said of his time on the soccer field or in math or chemistry or any other courses he took. Krueger typically mastered a subject, then challenged his fellow students to excel.

"He was simply outstanding," high school Principal Robert Farwell said. "So was his twin sister, Katie, and so was his older sister, Kelly."

Kelly, a 1995 graduate, is at the University of Rochester, while Katie attends Ithaca College.

"I worry about his little brother, Jeff," DeLozier said. "He's a freshman now and may be on our wrestling team. I just feel for those kids."

"I feel terrible for his parents and his brother and sisters -- they are a great family and all the kids are brilliant," Tundo said.

As one community mourns its loss, the investigation proceeds more than 400 miles away, putting pressure on MIT to control underaged drinking on campus.

Calling Krueger's death a "terrible tragedy," MIT President Charles M. Vest on Tuesday pledged that the MIT community will do all it can to see that such an incident never happens again.

But the problem is larger than this one tragic case.

"Drinking should be an issue on all campuses," Sales said. "Universities are communities of young people. They shouldn't be drinking to excess, and (those under 21) shouldn't be drinking at all."

"It's not confined to MIT," he added. "It's not confined to universities. It's a societal problem."

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