Eden Prairie family of college student who suffered brain injury after pledge party speaks out
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The family of a University of Missouri student from Eden Prairie who suffered a devastating brain injury after allegedly being pressured to drink a bottle of vodka during a fraternity pledge party sat down with ABC News for an exclusive interview.
Daniel Santulli, 19, of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, was found in cardiac arrest inside a car at University Hospital on Oct. 20, 2021, according to a lawsuit the family filed. His blood alcohol content was 0.486%, more than six times the legal limit for driving, the Associated Press reported.
The lawsuit contends Santulli and the rest of his pledge class at Phi Gamma Delta were each forced to drink a bottle of hard liquor, given to them by their “pledge fathers.”
After the incident, Santulli was “unresponsive, unaware of his surroundings, unable to communicate and (with) a significant injury to his brain,” the lawsuit stated. After six weeks in the ICU, Santulli was moved to a rehabilitation hospital in Colorado. Now, more than seven months later, he’s back home in Minnesota with his family.
The lawsuit, filed against 23 defendants, has been somewhat recently settled, ABC News reports.
During the ABC News interview, Santulli’s family members shared their experiences, in an effort to make sure no one else experiences their pain.
“Just the fact that nobody… they knew he was in distress and his lips were blue, and nobody called 911. It’s, like, I don’t know, I mean a six-year-old calls 911,” Mary Pat Santulli, Danny’s mother, told ABC News.
When asked what the doctors told the family about Danny’s care, Mary Pat said, “that he’ll need care for life. He’s still not talking or walking. He’s in a wheelchair. He lost his vision. But he hears us, and he knows we’re there. And we’ll just keep fighting, and we’re not gonna give up hope.”
The University of Missouri has since revoked the fraternity’s charter and proposed sanctions against thirteen of its members. Prosecutors have charged one fraternity member with two misdemeanors for supplying alcohol to a minor.
The Santulli family says that’s not enough.
“It makes me sick to my stomach seeing the people involved that harmed Danny walking around campus, acting like they did nothing wrong,” Meredith Santulli, Danny’s sister, said.
Tom Santulli, Danny’s father, told ABC News, “I do personally want to see specific kids get felony Ds (class D felonies). That’s going to wake them up. A misdemeanor is not gonna wake them up.”
Prosecutors told ABC News their investigation is ongoing and “if appropriate, will file additional charges.”
The fraternity told ABC News “Danny should not have been put in such a situation” and the “fraternity prohibits hazing” and giving alcohol to minors.
On Monday, the Santullis filed an amendment to their civil suit, adding two more fraternity members to the case.
Mary Pat is now Danny’s fulltime caregiver. Family members told ABC News they are focusing on celebrating Danny’s progress day by day.
“At the end of the day, it’s still Danny, still looks like Danny,” Nick Santulli, Danny’s brother, told ABC News. “And we’re gonna love Danny forever, and we’ll always be by his side, no matter what.”
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