For the first time, we’re hearing the other sides of the story in the death of Clemson University student Tucker Hipps.
The 19-year-old freshman fell headfirst off the 93-bridge, 20 feet down into Lake Hartwell, during a Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity run in September 2014.
New documents have now been filed in response to the two civil complaints Hipps’ family brought against Sig Ep, Sig Ep’s Clemson chapter, Clemson University and fraternity brothers Thomas King, Campbell Starr and Samuel Carney in March.
The complaints said King confronted Hipps over his failure to bring all the pledges breakfast from McDonald’s that morning right before Hipps fell headfirst off the bridge.
King’s newly-filed response denies those allegations.
The complaint also said that Sig Ep chapter had a long tradition of pressuring and forcing pledges to jump off the bridge and swim to shore.
Sig Ep and fraternity brothers King and Starr’s answers deny that.
Starr also denies the complaints’ claims that he deleted all calls off his cell phone from the days surrounding Hipps’ death, although his parents did change his phone number.
Clemson University, the fraternity, King and Starr’s filings all say it was not their negligence, but Hipps’ own reckless behavior that led to his death.
The fraternity’s answer says it was caused by Hipps “voluntarily jumping into the water and/or otherwise voluntarily assuming the risk.”
Carney’s attorney filed motions to dismiss or for more definitive statement, which say the complaints’ statements about Carney’s involvement are so vague and ambiguous he cannot form a response.
In March, Solicitor Chrissy Adams announced Hipps’ case was being moved to the unsolved crimes investigation unit because law enforcement was “at a standstill.”
Oconee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Jimmy Watt said two new tips have come in since then.