An autopsy Friday showed high levels of alcohol in the 18-year-old LSU fraternity pledge whose death is being investigated as a possible hazing incident, East Baton Rouge Coroner Beau Clark said.
There was also noticeable swelling to the brain and lungs of Maxwell Gruver, which, Clark said, happens as the body slowly shuts down, common after excessive alcohol use or in drug overdoses. The preliminary autopsy report issued Friday stated the chemical found in marijuana, THC, was also detected in Gruver's system.
Gruver's official cause of death will not be determined until toxicology and other testing is complete, Clark said, which could take as long as four weeks. However, Clark did rule that there was no internal or external trauma associated with Gruver’s death.
Gruver, of Roswell, Georgia, was taken either late Wednesday or early Thursday from LSU's Phi Delta Theta house, the fraternity he was pledging, to Our Lady of the Lake Medical Center where died on Thursday.
The death prompted LSU President F. King Alexander to indefinitely halt all Greek activity on campus.
The pre-Mass Communications major had not yet made it through his first month of classes at the university the avid sports-enthusiast was thrilled to attend, his grandfather said.
"He was so happy that he was going to school at LSU," his grandfather, Eugene Gruver said Friday, his voice breaking in a phone call with The Advocate from York, Pennsylvania, home. "I wished him well."
Maxwell Gruver had dreams of becoming a sports writer after a lifetime of playing, watching and coaching sports, his grandfather said. The freshman had attended the most recent LSU home football game.
"He's very talented, very bright," his grandfather said, adding that Maxwell Gruver had recently found success writing, getting articles published locally during his senior year of high school. The teen had graduated from Blessed Trinity Catholic High School in Roswell, Georgia, this past spring.
"He had a very happy life in high school. He had a very happy graduation," Eugene Gruver said, remembering the last time he saw his grandson. "We had a big family get together the night of his graduation. He spent the night with us (instead of out with friends) ... that's the kind of guy he was."
Maxwell Gruver was an "excellent swimmer" and played an array of other sports, including football and baseball, throughout his life, his grandfather said.
He also had coached younger children on their sports teams, Eugene Gruver said.
LSU officials suspended all Greek activities indefinitely Thursday until they complete the i…
"He loved kids," his grandfather said. "(He was) very lovable and caring for people and his family."
The fraternity Maxwell Gruver was pledging was both suspended by its general headquarters and the university Thursday. The nine students living in the Phi Delta Theta house at 23 Dalrymple Drive had to move out immediately, said LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard. All had left as of Friday morning, Ballard said, and the university was assisting the students to find alternative housing.
"I cannot understand the hazing," Eugene Gruver said.
As a Pennsylvania resident, he said he's followed the horrific story of the fraternity pledge who died at Penn State in February.
"And now this happened to my grandson Max," he said. "I don't understand why (fraternities) can't have a banquet and toast them and then (offer) help to them, instead of this hazing business."
The university-wide suspension of Greek activities means that no events planned by or affiliated with fraternities or sororities are permitted to take place, including pledging, Ballard said. The suspension is indefinite.
Ballard said as of Friday night he was unaware of any arrests made in the case, but that police continue to investigate the incident, including allegations of both hazing and alcohol use. Ballard said there was no registered event at the Phi Delta Theta house the night before Gruver's death.
East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said Friday authorities are working to collect evidence, including statements and videos, but they are still hopeful for more information.
"We've interviewed many of the fraternity members, and several have chosen not to give a statement and have hired attorneys," Moore said. "Many others have yet to be interviewed."
He said if the incident becomes a criminal case, the possible charges that could be filed against LSU students or anyone who contributed to Gruver's death range from hazing to negligent homicide or manslaughter.
Moore said it was premature to guess whether there will be charges filed in the case. He said the completed autopsy report is a factor that could help determine if criminal charges are warranted.
Moore encouraged anyone with documentation or information of the events leading to Gruver's death to come forward.
Advocate staff writer Rebekah Allen contributed this report.