ST. LOUIS — Two men from the St. Louis area were charged Friday in an alleged hazing incident that left a former University of Missouri student wheelchair-bound, blind, and unable to speak.
A Boone County grand jury indicted Ryan Delanty, of Ballwin, and Thomas Shultz, of Chesterfield, on felony hazing charges and misdemeanors of supplying liquor to a minor or intoxicated person.
Shultz is facing an additional felony charge of tampering with physical evidence. Both have bonds set at $50,000.
The charges come nearly eight months after former Mizzou freshman Danny Santulli, 19, was hospitalized after drinking a liter of vodka during an event at the Phi Gamma Delta house in October, according to a lawsuit filed by Santulli’s family. Delanty was Santulli’s pledge brother, while Shultz was vice president and treasurer of the fraternity.
“It’s impossible to have damages that are worse than what Danny Santulli has and still be alive,” said the family’s attorney, David Bianchi. “As a result of what they did to him, he has massive brain damage. He’s lost his eyesight, so he’s blind. He cannot walk, and he cannot communicate in any way.”
The 55-page lawsuit claims that another frat brother, Alec Wetzler, made Santulli drink beer through a tube. Wetzler faces two misdemeanor charges alleging he provided alcohol to a minor.
The lawsuit went on to say that just before midnight, Santulli was sitting on a couch in “extreme distress and with a blood alcohol of .468%.” That’s nearly six times the legal limit in Missouri.
Thirty minutes later, around 12:30 a.m., Santulli slid partially off the couch and ended with his face on the floor, but he had no control of his arms or legs and stayed there until someone passing through the room put him back on the couch.
The lawsuit states that Santulli’s “skin was pale and his lips were blue, yet no one called 911.” Instead, the decision was made to drive Danny to University Hospital in Columbia in one of the brother’s cars.
“When they arrived, hospital staff went to the car only to find that [Santulli] was not breathing and in cardiac arrest,” the suit states. “CPR was performed, and [Santulli’s] heart was restarted.”
Santulli was then rushed to the intensive care unit (ICU) and put on a ventilator. Days later, he was removed from the ventilator and able to breathe on his own, but he was still unresponsive, unaware of his surroundings, unable to communicate, and had a significant injury to his brain.
Back in May, the University of Missouri said 13 students received disciplinary sanctions because of the incident but did not give specific details. Shortly after the October event, Mizzou booted the fraternity off the campus, and the house was closed.
Earlier this month, the Boone County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office released a statement saying its investigation was ongoing.
“This office takes allegations of hazing very seriously, and we are terribly saddened by the injuries sustained by Danny Santulli,” the statement read. “This office will seek justice in this case based on the evidence and Missouri law.”
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