District attorney's office not filing charges for suspected hazing death
DA John Flynn explains cause of UB freshman’s April 2019 death
Erie County District Attorney John Flynn announced Monday his office won’t file criminal charges for the April 2019 death of 18-year-old UB freshman Sebastian Serafin-Bazan.
Flynn said the official cause of Serafin-Bazan's death was cardiac arrest and his “manner of death was natural causes,” and that the DA and BPD chose not to pursue criminal charges because they “had no reason to believe that this was intentionally done at the beginning.”
Serafin-Bazan was found unconscious on the lawn of 69 Custer St., which belonged to the Sigma Pi fraternity, on April 12, 2019. He later died on April 17.
Flynn said the fraternity instructed Serafin-Bazan and another pledge to do pushups at approximately 11 p.m. on April 12. After doing 20 pushups in approximately 30 minutes, the fraternity ordered Serafin-Bazan to do more.
“After about half an hour, the three brothers who were doing the instruction went back upstairs,” Flynn said. “And then three [different] fraternity brothers came downstairs to continue with the instruction and they also instructed [the pledges] to drop and do push ups. After about three push ups, the victim collapsed.”
Flynn said one pledge heard Serafin-Bazan “gasping for air” and began CPR before the Sigma Pi president called 911.
“They then proceeded to pick up the victim, walk him upstairs from the basement, take him outside and leave him on the front lawn of the house,” Flynn said. “And then the other pledge and two of the fraternity brothers stayed there with the victim, waiting for the ambulance to arrive. And then the other four took off.”
He said the medical examiner noted in their report that his death may have been due to an underlying condition, but “couldn’t definitively tell.” The examiner noted Serafin-Bazan was sick at the time of his death and had just “gotten over the flu,” according to Flynn, but couldn’t determine if it had anything to do with his death.
Flynn said the four brothers who fled the scene returned and some of them went with the victim to the hospital, while others went to the Buffalo Police Department to give a statement.
BPD investigated the death as a result of a possible hazing, which is illegal in New York State and qualifies as a Class-A misdemeanor. NYS law defines hazing as when a person is forced into “intentional or reckless” activities which cause a “substantial risk” of physical injury.
Reilly Mullen is the news editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ReillyMMullen.