Tragedy strikes fraternity

Published 6:00 pm Monday, September 7, 2009

The death of Troy University student Andrew Salter, a likely swine flu victim, was not the only hardship members of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity were hit with this weekend.

Early Saturday morning, two other pledge members of the fraternity were involved in a collision that left one seriously injured.

Anthony Mitchell, 21, of Fairhope, was airlifted to Montgomery after the vehicle wrecked on County Road 2221, five miles south of Troy, said Alabama State Trooper Spokesman Kevin Cook.

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Mitchell was the passenger of the vehicle, driven by Bradley Beauregard, 18 of Troy.

Brett Singleton, president of Pi Kappa Phi, said both were members of the pledge class.

The news of Mitchell and Beauregard hit members of the fraternity hard, coming just a day after the death of pledge-class member Salter Friday afternoon.

“It’s been a rough week,” Singleton said.

According to Troy University Spokesman Andy Ellis, Salter, 18 of Valley, previously had the flu, but he was hospitalized for pneumonia. Ellis said he went into cardiac arrest in Dothan’s Southeast Alabama Medical Center, and attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.

For fraternity brothers and friends, Salter’s likely flu-related death, was a shock.

“I was at my grandmother’s house when I found out, and it was a big shock,” said Patrick Phelps, a freshman from Lexington, N.C. “It didn’t sink in at first. I was just talking to him last week.”

Singleton said Salter became ill in Troy a week before his death.

“The first I heard about it, we had flag football practice, and I asked where he was,” Singleton said. “I was told he was sick at home, and then the next day heard he was in the hospital.”

Kelsey Mauldin, of Troy, met Salter in an English class, and though she had only known him a few months, the two became close friends.

“We didn’t know each other very long, but he liked to listen to music. We hung out a lot, and he loved his family,” Mauldin said.

Mauldin said one of her favorite times with her friend happened just last weekend, when she drove him home after he had the flu.

“I drove him down to Atmore and met his family,” Mauldin said. “That was probably one of my favorite times.”

But just a week later, as Mauldin was driving to the Dothan hospital to see her friend, she heard the tragic news.

“I was on my way to the hospital to see him, and we were almost to Dothan when his dad told me,” Mauldin said.

Neither Mauldin nor Phelps ever imagined they would come this close to flu tragedy, especially since there have only been three prior H1N1 deaths in the state.

“I’m from North Carolina, and I hear about it on TV all the time and think I’m not even near that,” Phelps said.

“Then, I come down here and wouldn’t believe how many people in Troy have the flu. It was just a shock because you can’t believe someone you hang out with every couple of days is just gone.”

Mauldin said she was always cautious about the flu, but her friend’s death just came as a quick surprise. Mauldin tested positive for the flu herself Sunday but said she’s feeling better already.

As for Mitchell, Singleton said he is on his way to recovery in the Montgomery hospital.

“For about a day, they were telling us there was a 50 percent chance his arm would have to be amputated, but the last I heard, it’s not going to be amputated,” Singleton said.

“They said he was awake, but not really responsive yet.”

Cook said speeding was a factor in the wreck, but alcohol was not involved.