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Monday November 27, 2000

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Father of crash victim will not sue fraternity

By Hillary Davis

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Blame on Phi Delta Theta would be misplaced, dad says

The father of a UA freshman killed in a September motorcycle accident will not file a lawsuit against the student's fraternity, saying his son's friends in the organization could not have prevented the young man's death.

Tom Haley, whose 19-year-old son James Thomas Haley was killed on Sept. 4 after his motorcycle struck a tow truck, said that, despite any circumstances that could link his son's death to prior activities that night with the University of Arizona chapter of Phi Delta Theta fraternity, the group is not at fault.

"He was the person who got on the motorcycle, and drove the motorcycle, and probably went through that stop sign," he said. "I would not hold the blame for that with his friends, his fraternity members."

James Thomas Haley, also known as J.T., was killed after his motorcycle collided with a tow truck at East First Street and North Cherry Avenue, about one block west of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity house, 1745 E. Second St.

Haley failed to yield to a stop sign at the intersection and was not wearing a helmet.

Haley had a blood alcohol content of 0.102 percent, two-thousandths of a percent over Arizona's legal limit.

Phi Delta Theta banned alcohol from functions at the UA chapter house in 1998 when the national organization became alcohol free. If Haley is found to have been drinking at the house before he died, penalties could be levied against the 17-member fraternity, depending on the findings of an investigation by fraternity lawyers, a national Phi Delta Theta official said last week.

National fraternity officials could not be reached for comment during the weekend.

Still, Tom Haley said that only his son was in control of his actions in the hours before his death. Although Tom Haley said he was proud of his son, also a midshipman in the UA Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps, he recognized that the younger Haley was no "angel" and not as infallible as he may have thought.

Tom Haley added that netting money from his son's death would be pointless, and the only benefit he would like to see result from his son's death is for other students to "think twice," or be more careful when making decisions.

"If there was a lawsuit that would bring him back, that's where I'd be, but there isn't," he said.

Although Tom Haley is divorced from his son's mother and does not know if she is planning to pursue legal action against Phi Delta Theta, he never faulted the group, and has called the house to see how the members are coping.

"The last thing I want to do is go after J.T.'s friends and blame them for his death," he said.