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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

10th anniversary of hazing death inspires continued activism

Matthew Carrington died in the early hours of Feb. 2, 2005, at the age of 21 as a result of water intoxication from a hazing ritual that pledges were forced to endure. Carrington’s mother, Debbie Smith, has since become a crusader raising awareness about the dangers of hazing. Photo courtesy of Debbie Smith.

Friends and family of Matthew Carrington gathered during a small candlelit vigil held Sunday in his honor.

Carrington’s mother, Debbie Smith, and brother, Travis Smith, were among those at the vigil late Sunday night.

Vigils and events that commemorate Carrington’s life are everything, Debbie Smith said.

Carrington was 21 years old at the time of his death on Feb. 2, 2005, which was caused by water intoxication from hazing rituals conducted in the basement of the former Chi Tau fraternity house. During the hazing, Carrington and other pledges were forced to do pushups and repeatedly drink water while fans blew cold air on them.

Debbie Smith walked the streets of downtown Sunday placing fliers at Madison Bear Garden and other establishments trying to spread the word of Carrington’s story. She has found Chico State to be extremely cooperative with her cause.

Many of the fraternity and sorority houses Debbie Smith visited Sunday left her with a great experience, she said.

Monday’s movie event in the Bell Memorial Union aired A&E; network’s “Campus Nightmares,” a show that re-enacted the events that led to Carrington’s death. The movie is a true representation of who Matt was as a person, Debbie Smith said.

She wants to help educate young people on hazing in order to prevent incidents like Carrington’s death from happening again in the future.

Debbie Smith created the Anti-hazing Awareness Movement for that very reason. Carrington’s death prompted her to want to change the hazing culture, she said.

“Hazing is out of control because it’s not recognized,” Debbie Smith said. “They don’t see it before it gets out of hand.”

The group is a nonprofit organization created in memory of Carrington’s death. Its mission is “to end the senseless deaths of our young people by educating them on the dangers of hazing.”

Smith and others are determined to continue their efforts to end hazing.

For more information on Carrington’s story visit

Kristina Martinez can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.

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