Family members of a college hazing victim say they are sharing their story to prevent another senseless death as college students return to campuses this fall.
“It was such a waste, such a waste of life," said Carolyn Castro of Pacific Beach. "You can’t help but cry."
Castro poured herself a glass of wine and sat down Wednesday night to watch a one-hour television program called “College Nightmares.”
The show included a reenactment about a Chico State student killed in a hazing ritual nine years ago. For Castro, it was the most painful experience of her life.
Castro’s nephew Matthew Carrington died in February 2005 after collapsing in an off-campus fraternity basement.
The unsanctioned fraternity was known for its big parties, but alcohol had nothing to do with Matthew’s death.
He died after being forced to chug gallons of water from a condition known as Hyponatremia, or water poisoning.
“It was like a shock. Matthew? What on earth? Why? Why?” recalled Castro, the tears quickly running down her cheek as she remembered the day she received the news.
“Matt was a sweetheart, he was a love. He was good kid, he wasn’t a punk," Castro said.
With college campuses filling up again in the coming weeks, hazing will undoubtedly find its way into the lives of students.
Matthew’s family worked to stiffen anti-hazing laws, but they say more education is still needed.
Some people might think it cruel torture to see something so awful reenacted on television, but Matthew’s family welcomed and participated in the making of the documentary as part of their ongoing effort to prevent other families from experiencing their same heartache.
"You have tears because Matthew was a sweetheart” said Castro.
Matt's Law, giving prosecutors the ability to charge hazing suspects with felonies and for the first time the ability to seek hazing charges against non-students, was signed into law in 2006.
Find more information about the family's efforts and advice on how to prevent college hazing at this website.