‘Adam had a huge, huge heart’: Family believes hazing led to VCU student’s death

The family believes hazing is to blame for his death - and they just want answers.
Courtesy family photos
Courtesy family photos(Family photos)
Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 4:28 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT/WDBJ) - A Loudoun County family is mourning the loss of Adam Oakes, a VCU student who died at an off-campus residence on Saturday.

Adam’s dad and cousin say they’re heartbroken over losing who they call their teddy bear, who was full of love and wanted to show that to everyone he met.

The family believes hazing is to blame for his death - and they just want answers.

Family members say that after a night of heavy drinking, Oakes passed out at the Delta Chi fraternity house and was discovered there the next morning.

Oakes’ family believes the death was connected to a hazing process, but that has not been confirmed by police or the university.

One of Adam’s closest friends from childhood has since started a GoFundMe for post-mortal costs. In just one day, the fundraiser has raised more than $30,000.

“I knew anyone who was close to him was going to pitch in something and with this being their only son this is crushing for them and anyway we could ease this process for them we were going to do it,” said Max Turner. “It is something he would have done for any of us because our friend group was really close-knit.”

Turner and Oakes grew up in Northern Virginia together - they played on the same baseball and football teams. From birthday parties to playing in the neighborhood, Turner says some of his beloved and cherished memories are with Oakes.

“He was always the happiest guy in the room,” said Turner. “Any person that ever met him, met the same Adam, the same genuine happy guy. It’s just hard that I can’t see him anymore, it’s hard to think about.”

Turner says their friends are devastated and many of them have come home from college to be together and honor Adam’s life.

“We are going to carry ourselves with the same mentality of treating everyone with generosity and kindness and welcoming people. Anyone who met him knew they were welcome with him,” said Turner. “He was just a special person, it would be wrong if we didn’t live like Adam.”

Delta Chi fraternity’s national office issued a cease-and-desist order to the VCU chapter on Saturday. The university took similar action on Sunday and is continuing its own investigation.

“This is a tragic loss for Adam’s family and members of our community and we encourage any students in need of support to contact University Counseling Service at (804)828-6200,” stated a release from the university.

The Richmond Police Department stated in a release that officers responded to the 100 block of West Clay Street at approximately 9:16 a.m. on Saturday for reports of a person down.

When officers arrived, they pronounced 19-year-old Oakes dead at the scene. The medical examiner will determine the cause and manner of death.

Anyone with information regarding this incident should contact Richmond Police Detective M. Gouldman at 804-646-3915 or VCU Police at 804-828-1196.

VCU President Michael Rao offered condolences to Oakes’ family and loved ones via Twitter on Sunday.

“We are heartbroken at a tragic loss of one of our own. I offer my heartfelt sympathies to Adam’s loved ones and closes friends,” Rao said. “@VCU will continue to work closely with local law enforcement as the investigation develops.”

The Delta Chi fraternity released a statement regarding the death and extended condolences to the family and friends of Oakes.

“The health and safety of our chapter communities is always a top priority for The Delta Chi Fraternity, which suspended the VCU chapter after learning of the incident late Saturday afternoon,” the fraternity said in a statement.

The fraternity also encouraged members to cooperate with law enforcement during investigation efforts.

Click here to view a petition calling for the Delta Chi chapter to be expelled from VCU.

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