‘Not a Penn State Case': Death of Lafayette Student McCrae Williams Not Hazing, DA Says

Investigators released an updated timeline of events leading to Williams' death starting Friday evening and concluding with his death three days later.

What to Know

  • McCrae Williams, 19, attended several parties on the weekend before his death.
  • Williams was found semi-conscious outside a Lafayette College dorm on Sept. 10.
  • Williams died from blunt force trauma injuries to his head, the coroner said. Toxicology reports are pending.

A day of drinking, an accidental fall and delayed medical attention led to the death of a 19-year-old Lafayette College freshman, investigators said Tuesday.

McCrae Williams' death does not appear to be the result of hazing or criminal conduct, Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli said.

Criminal charges will not be sought at this time.

McCrae Williams, from Weston, Massachusetts, died Sept. 11 after a weekend of partying on campus. An autopsy concluded he died from blunt force trauma.

"I do not see this as a Penn State case," Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli said, referring to the hazing death of Timothy Piazza

"There is a strong likelihood he crashed onto the concrete floor and sustained a head injury." 

Investigators released an updated timeline of events leading to the 19-year-old's death starting Friday evening and concluding three days later.

The freshman joined lacrosse teammates at a party Sept. 8 around 6 p.m. Several hours later, Williams and a few friends went to his room to continue drinking. Fellow attendees described him as "talkative" but clearly intoxicated. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, friends told investigators.

Around 11 p.m. that same evening, Williams' friends went to another party. No one could confirm seeing him there.

On Saturday morning, Williams received calls and texts from friends. At noon, one friend asked if he had started drinking yet.

"Just started, but all we have is watermelon vodka and I hate watermelon," Williams responded.

By 1:30 p.m., he was spotted at a "day drink" party with roughly 50 to 80 attendees, investigators said.

The students were drinking out of red cups and told investigators it was primarily a beer event.

"No one interviewed indicated that he was in any distress," Morganelli said. "There was nothing forced or unusual."

Williams left that party around 4:30 p.m. and went to a nearby Wawa for food. He was seen in surveillance video "stumbling" and "unsure of his footing," according to investigators.

From there, Williams went back to his door room and was seen entering with a woman about 30 minutes after leaving Wawa. She told investigators that he vomited, but she assumed it was just from a long day of drinking. He got up up to vomit again, and then she heard a loud sound.

The woman turned around and saw Williams on the floor. He was groaning, but there was no blood or obvious head wounds, she told investigators.

Concerned, she called friends for help. They plucked Williams off the floor, placed him on his side in a bed and put a backpack on him to prevent Williams from rolling onto his back and choking on vomit. 

They thought he just needed to sleep it off, Morganelli said. 

Throughout the course of Saturday evening, several friends checked on Williams. Each time he told people he just wanted to rest.

By late Sunday morning, friends became worried Williams was still sleeping. Some brought him water and food, but again the freshman shooed them away. 

Around 4 p.m., after almost 24 hours of sleeping, one friend called the lacrosse coach, who advised him to immediately call 911. Williams' friends took him outside and put him in the back of a car, with the intention of taking him to the hospital. That's where he found by first responders and campus personnel.

Williams died the next day. 

"We’re dealing with 18, 19-yr-old kids who felt their friend just needed time to sleep off the effects of alcohol," Morganelli said. 

Toxicology reports are still pending, but Morganelli does not anticipate pursuing underage drinking or criminal charges. 

"I have no evidence of a crime being committed," he said.

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