Sunday, December 09, 2007

Clemson Sigma Nu Found Dead

Clemson freshman's body found at frat house
Teen was Greenville High grad, grandson of longtime lawmaker
By Paul Alongi

A Clemson University freshman who was a Greenville High School graduate and the grandson of a longtime state legislator was found dead Sunday at a fraternity house, according to Oconee County Coroner Karl Addis.

One of Benjamin Garrison Sprague's frat brothers found the teen lying on a futon at Sigma Nu's off-campus house near Seneca at 7:40 a.m., Addis said.

An autopsy will be performed today.

He said Sprague, a member of Sigma Nu, had attended a party there the night before.

Sprague, 18, was the grandson of T. Ed Garrison, a Democratic state representative and senator from 1959-1987.

He was a general engineering major who graduated from Greenville High earlier this year and played center for the Red Raiders' football team, said family friend Jeff Dezen.

"Ben is one of the most brilliant, loving, kind young men I have ever known," Dezen said, "and I have known him since he was a little boy."

Sprague became the seventh Clemson student to die this semester and the second during the weekend.

Ralph Nathaniel Pinnock Jr., 21, lost control of his motorcycle and collided with a pickup on Highlands Highway near Walhalla about 1:20 p.m. Saturday, Addis said. Pinnock, of Columbia, was a senior majoring in chemical engineering, said university spokeswoman Robin Denny.

Clemson plans to offer counseling services to its 17,000 students, she said. "This is exam week," Denny said. "It's an especially difficult time to be dealing with this very sad news.”

"Clemson placed Sigma Nu on interim suspension, pending an investigation by its Office of Community and Ethical Standards, Denny said.

Sigma Nu's executive director in Lexington, Va., couldn't be reached for comment.

The Oconee Sheriff's Office is also investigating Sprague's death and has asked for help from the State Law Enforcement Division, said SLED Inspector Richard Hunton. Sheriff James E. Singleton couldn't be reached for comment.

Sprague is the son of Joel and Gaye Sprague of Greenville and has an older brother, Jay, who attends Clemson, Dezen said. Relatives wanted to grieve in private Sunday, he said.

Garrison, the namesake of Clemson's livestock arena, owned Denver Downs Farm on Clemson Highway for years. His son Bart Garrison also a Clemson graduate, died in a silo accident on the family's farm in May 1990. S

Sprague was an outstanding athlete and scholar, Dezen said. He played on the Red Raiders' soccer team. Greenville County Schools honored him for being one of 12 students who never missed a day of high school. "In his intelligence, his spirit and his joy for life, Ben Sprague was a giant," Dezen said.

Staff writer E. Richard Walton contributed to this story.