Authorities are continuing their investigation into the death of Fresno State fraternity pledge. 18-year-old Phillip Dhanens of Bakersfield died Sunday at a local hospital. Police say his death came after a heavy night of drinking over the weekend at the Theta Chi fraternity house.
University officials immediately suspended recognition of the fraternity following this tragedy. But family and friends are still left dealing with the loss of this young man, who had his whole life ahead of him.
What was supposed to be a fun college experience, ended tragically for 18-year-old Fresno State freshman Phillip Dhanens.
Phillip's girlfriend Zoe Tucker said, "Everyone loved him. He just had a heart of gold."
The Bakersfield native had recently become a pledge for the Theta Chi fraternity. But a heavy night of drinking at the off-campus fraternity house, took a deadly turn. Dhanen's girlfriend of three years says he was rushed to the hospital after drinking two bottles of rum Friday night.
"I was like this can't be happening. My heart was in knots and I was like no he's going to be okay. He's going to pull through. He's going to make it."
But he didn't. Dhanens was in a coma and suffered brain damage. He died Sunday.
"I just don't think it's real. I just wish there were some people to look out for him, like I wish I was there to look after him, to keep him from doing anything to hurt his family or him."
It's a heartbreaking loss for everybody who knew him. Dhanens and Zoe were the prom king and queen at their high school in Bakersfield. He was also a football star. His coach Jim Maples remembers him as a charismatic athlete who shined on and off the field. "He was big, had a smile on his face all of the time, just happy go life, just enjoyed life, was a great student."
Dhanen's death has also rattled fellow Fresno State students.
"It was a little bit scary, I actually heard about it for the first time last night so i was like okay I'm not gonna be going out too soon."
"Everybody has to learn from this, and it's all you can do. Be careful out there, don't overdo it."
Thetha Chi fraternity members declined to comment. But fraternity officials did release a statement saying, "They have a strict anti-hazing policy and strict guidelines for chapters which prohibit underage alcohol consumption"
Fraternity and Unveristy officials have also expressed their condolences to family and friends. A candlelight vigil for Dhanens will be held here on campus Tuesday night at 8:45 p.m. Inside the peace garden.
The coroner is performing an autopsy on Dhanens, and expects to have the results back later this week. This death comes nearly seven years after the last fraternity-related at Fresno State.