The parents of a Boston College student who drowned in a creek while visiting a friend at Skidmore College have dropped a lawsuit against nine current or former Skidmore students.
Taking a different approach to getting answers about their son’s death, Kenneth and Deanna Grant are offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of anyone responsible for causing Alexander Grant’s death.
Police have said they do not suspect foul play in the young man’s death, but his parents do.
“After an extensive investigation of this tragedy, undertaken by the Saratoga Springs Police Department, the Saratoga County District Attorney, the New York state medical examiner and others, we are convinced in our hearts, minds and souls that the key contributing factors leading to Alex’s death have not yet been disclosed,” they wrote in a statement on a website they set up at www.alexgranttips.org.
“We regard it as our solemn obligation to use every resource available to us to obtain a full accounting of Alex’s tragic death, and we implore you to come forward with any information you have,” they wrote.
The Grants have set up a toll-free tip line at 877-216-9588. People can also leave tips on the website.
They had alleged in the wrongful death lawsuit filed in April in the state Supreme Court in Saratoga County that the nine young men, some of whom lived on campus and some off, gave alcohol to Grant’s underage friend, who was supposed to be looking after him that night in March 2011.
No criminal charges were ever filed in connection with Grant’s death or parties on and off campus — where the lawsuit alleged that alcohol was served to minors.
The 19-year-old Grant had never been to Saratoga Springs before and drove there on a weekend to visit childhood friend Michael Perlow, a Skidmore student. Grant’s parents did not sue Perlow.
The two friends drank beer and tequila in Perlow’s dorm room before heading out to a party at 146 Church St., police said last year.
Before they went into the house, which was the off-campus residence of some Skidmore students, Grant confessed to Perlow “that he was unable to care for himself” because he had drunk so much alcohol, the suit stated. Perlow said he would bring Grant back to his dorm room, but once the friends entered the party, they got separated and Perlow kept drinking and didn’t notice when Grant left the party alone, the suit alleged.
The Grants in April sued Perlow’s roommates and the residents of the off-campus house because the state General Obligations Law allows people to seek damages in court if someone supplies alcohol to a minor who then causes harm to someone else. They sought more than $5 million in damages.
Between May and August, the Westchester County couple dropped their civil charges one by one against the young men: Jonathan Hoeg, Bryan Connolly, Matthew Diaco and Nicholas Yedibalian; the off-campus residents hosting the party, Brendan Flynn, Ian Bain, Charles Sullivan and Brian Milazzo; and partygoer Seth Berger. All the young men are either current or former students, a Skidmore spokeswoman confirmed.
Police pieced together Grant’s movements based on surveillance camera footage from that night.
After Grant left the party around 11:15 p.m. March 5, 2011, he wandered west on foot and was caught on a camera at the Saratoga train station off West Avenue looking disoriented at 11:31 p.m. He was fully clothed and appeared to stagger, police said in a report completed in October on the teen’s death.
Two hours later, at 1:33 a.m., he was caught on camera again, this time at a medical building on Care Lane off Church Street. Grant broke in to that building and walked around until 2:11 a.m.
He had shed most of his clothes by then, wearing only one sock, a long-sleeved T-shirt and shorts when he was caught on camera at 3 Care Lane. Authorities believe Grant was suffering from hypothermia by then; one of the symptoms hypothermic people experience is feeling hot when they’re actually very cold.
Rescue workers found his body two days later, submerged in 4 feet of water under an ice shelf in nearby Putnam Brook. Authorities said he drowned, with intoxication and probable hypothermia contributing to his death.
Authorities determined his blood-alcohol level at death was 0.16 percent, twice the legal threshold for driving while intoxicated, and that he had “a low level” of marijuana in his system.
Though no criminal charges have been filed the investigation continues and Grant’s parents still want answers. In late May, authorities said they would offer immunity from prosecution to anyone who gives information about Grant’s final hours.
A college spokeswoman declined comment on the lawsuit, saying it would be inappropriate for the college to do so.
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