Fraternity pledge dies in auto accident

By Joseph Altman Jr.

Arizona Daily Wildcat

A 20-year-old UA student, who was an Alpha Tau Omega fraternity pledge, died in an automobile accident Oct. 14.

Dean of Students Melissa Vito said Eric A. Jones, an agriculture technology management sophomore, was killed in the early morning accident.

The Pima County Sheriff's Department is investigating the crash, which occurred on Catalina Highway, northeast of Tucson.

Sgt. Larry Cripe of the sheriff's department said Jones was the passenger in a white 1992 Ford pickup which left the roadway and collided with an embankment. Preliminary investigations revealed that the truck was traveling in excess of 65 mph, he said. The speed limit on that section of Catalina Highway is 35 mph.

Cripe said Jones was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene. Witnesses of the accident also reported seeing a second male running south from the scene with blood on his face, Cripe said. Initial attempts to locate the subject were unsuccessful, but at 4:30 p.m. the same day, the subject, Joseph M. Lichens, 20, was located and admitted to driving the vehicle.

Cripe said because of the length of time between the accident and Lichen's discovery, the investigation has not been able to prove if the driver was intoxicated at the time of the collision. A preliminary report from the medical examiner showed that Jones, however, did have alcohol in his system.

The only evidence which remotely suggests alcohol was involved in the collision is a keg tap that was found in the vehicle, Cripe said.

No arrests or citations have been made in the case, but Cripe said the possibility of citations being issued to Lichens will be addressed once the investigation is completed. Investigations are usually complete within 30 days of an accident to allow the case to be brought to


the county attorney's office for review, Cripe said.

Jason Floyd, president of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house, said Jones went up into the mountains with a friend that night and is not aware if alcohol was involved. He said he knew Lichens was a friend of Jones and is still upset over what happened.

Lichens could not be reached for comment.

Vito said she does not know any details about the incident, and no investigation by the University of Arizona is taking place.

"Since it happened off campus, our role has been to provide support for his roommate and the fraternity," Vito said.

"At the house there was a large gathering and a ceremony. There was outstanding support on campus and people offered a lot of sympathy," Floyd said. Jones had only been a pledge for five days at the time of the accident.

Read Next Article