Date: Thu, 16 Dec 1999 08:40:53 -0500
Subject: HECNews: Police: Alcohol most likely a factor in Iona death
HECNews is a conduit for all press coverage related to alcohol, other
drug (AOD), and violence at U.S. colleges and universities. Negative news
coverage of these issues is pervasive and may serve to reinforce exaggerated
misperceptions of actual substance use norms.
Our awareness of this and other news coverage should strengthen our
resolve not only to address AOD problems on campus, but also to advocate for
news coverage of the responsible majority of college students.
HECNews is provided by the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other
Drug Prevention (HEC), Contract No. ED-99-CO-0094 of the U.S. Department of
Education (ED). No official support or endorsement by the U.S. Department of
Education is intended or should be inferred.
Journal News 12/14/99
Police: Alcohol most likely a factor in Iona death
by Jonathan Bandler
NEW ROCHELLE -- Police said yesterday that alcohol most likely played
role in the death of Kevin Lawless, an Iona College freshman who partied at
an off-campus apartment and a local bar late Friday after his
first-semester classes ended.
"There was some kind of pledging activity going on that involved alcohol,"
said New Rochelle police Capt. Kevin Kealy. "How much drinking was
involved, we don't know. There aren't any quick answers. I want to have a
medical report before we say more about what happened and what he died of."
The Westchester Medical Examiner's Office performed an autopsy yesterday,
but results were unavailable. Results of toxicology tests could take
several weeks, police said.
More than 400 people attended Sunday's campus memorial service for Lawless,
an 18-year-old from Brooklyn. His funeral is scheduled for Thursday.
Lawless died at 4:10 a.m. Saturday at Sound Shore Medical Center, less
an hour after emergency workers found him unconscious in a second-floor
apartment at 617 North Ave.
Kealy would not identify the two students who rented the apartment where
Lawless was found. Police have spoken to the two and yesterday continued to
interview people who were with Lawless in the hours before he died, Kealy
Iona officials said they were told Lawless was trying to join a fraternity,
Sigma Tau Omega, that was banned from campus in the mid-1980s for hazing
and inappropriate use of alcohol.
The captain said the group had split its time Friday night and early
Saturday between the apartment and Molly's, a bar across the street.
Lawless eventually returned to the apartment, where someone found him
passed out about 3 a.m. Saturday.
Molly's is one of several bars in the neighborhood that cater to college
crowds. As with many college towns, some of the bars are known to attract
"We turn away 60 to 80 minors on a weekend night," said Suzanne Karter,
owner of Ketch 22 North, also a North Avenue bar. "Unfortunately, they're
being served in other local bars."
Ketch 22 requires all patrons to produce a photo identification, but
said two forms of identification would now be required in light of Lawless'
"We want to make sure nothing like this happens here," Karter said.
As a show of mourning, college officials asked local bars to abstain
serving alcohol to students for the remainder of last weekend, a request
Even so, many students previously decided to avoid the bars for now.
"Out of respect, they're not drinking," said Mary Gurnsey, a bartender
Ketch 22. "This is one of the most commendable things I've ever seen."
The college uses educational forums and peer counseling to warn students
against the abuse of alcohol, said Michael McGrath, Iona's vice provost.
Nearly all college events are alcohol-free to provide "healthy alternatives
to drinking on North Avenue."
Nevertheless, the bars have continued to be a major draw. "The lines
into the bars are phenomenal," said Pam Costa, co-owner of Steak Shack on
"The Strip" as it's called, has seen several operations targeting underage
drinking in recent years. Two bars, Gary's Barleycorn and Glory Days,
closed after authorities charged them with serving alcohol to a group of
northern Westchester teen-agers celebrating their high school graduation in
Two of the teen-agers died, and four others were injured when their
smashed into a utility pole near the Ursuline School after they left the