Teen's death brings new lesson in alcohol's risk
The honor student found dead at a KU fraternity had beer, whiskey and margaritas, his grieving dad says.
By Howard Pankratz, The Denver Post
Former Arapahoe High School honor student Jason Wren drank margaritas and then as many as a dozen beers and also whiskey before dying in a University of Kansas fraternity house, his father said Monday.
"One week of fraternity living killed him," Jay Wren said. "He overdrank. Kids have got to understand alcohol is the worst."
Wren, a 19-year-old college freshman, was found dead in KU's Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house about 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
Jay Wren said Lawrence, Kan., police told him that his son had gone to dinner Saturday evening with friends at a local restaurant, where he drank margaritas.
They then returned to the SAE house, where Jason had 10 to 12 beers and drank from an open bottle of Jack Daniel's, his father said he was told.
As he walked around with the bottle, Jason boasted that he never got sick when he got drunk, said his father. Jay Wren said that after his son passed out, his fraternity brothers put him to bed. After he stumbled out of the bed, they put him back in the bed instead of taking him to the hospital, he said.
Wren said he talked directly to the SAE chapter president.
"I said, 'Please, in Jason's memory, make the house dry,' " said Wren.
Brandon Weghorst, spokesman for SAE's national headquarters, said SAE national staffers are in Lawrence investigating the death along with SAE alumni who live in the Lawrence-Kansas City area.
Weghorst said that Jason Wren was a "new member or a pledge member" and had lived in the house for about two weeks.
He said that each SAE chapter is expected to adhere to local campus rules and state law concerning alcohol. SAE policies warn members to be alert for the signs of overdrinking.
A little more than a week before his death, Jay Wren said, his son informed him that he had been kicked out of one of the dorms at KU for drinking and other violations. But he said that Jason quickly found a home at the SAE house.
Wren said that officials at KU never informed him of his son's problems,that he had to learn it from his son, something Wren confronted university officials with after learning of the death.
KU told him that because of policy, they can tell parents of such problems only if the student agrees.
KU is not involved in the investigation, said school spokeswoman Jill Jess, because the fraternity is on private property. The Lawrence police are investigating but have yet to receive the results of Wren's autopsy, said Sgt. Bill Cory.
Wren was a well-liked figure at Arapahoe High School, said principal Ron Booth and assistant principal Mike Campbell, the varsity football coach.
"He was a great kid, very popular," said Booth. "He was a good student. Because of his popularity, his death has impacted the kids here. It is so difficult. He will be missed."
Campbell said Wren was an all-around student who took both his studies and football seriously.
"I would call him determined, tough, fearless," said Campbell about Wren, who lettered for three years as a defensive back on the football team. "He was a lovable person. Everyone liked being around him. He was a nice kid. He treated people right. He was never in trouble."
Campbell said that Wren - who was about 5-feet-10-inches tall and weighed about 175 pounds - had no intention of playing college football, choosing instead to concentrate on his studies.
Jay Wren said Jason was an honor student and excelled in calculus in high school. In addition to playing football, he was a great baseball player and had mastered lacrosse, Wren said. He also held down a job at one of the largest tire retailers in Denver, said his father.
Jason Wren did drink in high school, but it was always with nice kids, Jay Wren said.
In hindsight, said Wren, he should have had "zero tolerance" for alcohol for his son.
In addition to his parents, Jay and Mary, Jason Wren had two sisters, Victoria and Kathleen. http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_11874855