PLYMOUTH, N.H. -- Police are investigating reports that 10 Plymouth State University female students involved in a fatal crash this week were participating in activities related to an unauthorized sorority, a newspaper reported yesterday.
The Citizen also reported that university officials were looking into a report that some of the women were blindfolded as part of a "hazing" or induction ceremony. The woman who died in Monday night's crash, Kelly Nester, 20, was believed to be one of the pledges.
"If we or the police find there was hazing involved, some of the women may face disciplinary charges," Tim Keefe, the dean of students at Plymouth State, told the newspaper.
"These are unconfirmed rumors at this point."
University officials said four of the women had been members of Alpha Sigma Alpha, one of the university's two authorized sororities, but had left that organization to form their own non-sanctioned sorority, Sigma Kappa Omega.
The university, which has 3,800 undergraduates, has four sororities and three fraternities that are nationally chartered.
Nester, a junior from Coventry, R.I., was killed after the Jeep Grand Cherokee went out of control on rain-slicked Route 3 just south of Plymouth about 9:30 p.m. Monday. The other students were treated and released from a hospital.
Plymouth Police Captain Steve Temperino said he does not know why there were 10 students in the vehicle designed to seat five. He said a preliminary investigation showed that neither alcohol nor drugs was a factor. The preliminary investigation also determined that speed wasn't a factor, either, he said. When asked yesterday about the possible hazing, Temperino said, "It's not something that we're ready to discuss. It's too preliminary at this point. We're still focusing on the vehicle crash. It's important for us to set our priorities."
Temperino said not all of the nine remaining students have been interviewed yet. He said police are awaiting the results of the autopsy report on Nester, as well as tests of blood samples from the driver of the vehicle.
The mood at the campus, where Nester was a third-year early-childhood studies major, was somber. A funeral Mass for Nester was scheduled for tomorrow in Rhode Island and a memorial service was planned for Monday at the school.