Student left blind and 'needing care for life' after university hazing ends in tragedy

vt-author-image

By stefan armitage

Article saved!Article saved!

The family of University of Missouri student Danny Santulli has spoken out after their son was left permanently disabled following a catastrophic hazing ritual.

Screenshot 2024-07-01 at 16.05.40.jpgThe then-19-year-old was left blind and unable to walk or talk. Credit: Change.org

The Santulli family has bravely stepped forward to issue a stark warning against the dangers of hazing, following the October 2021 incident at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house.

Santulli, then 19 years old, endured a harrowing night where he was forced to drink a 1.75-liter bottle of Tito’s vodka and was subsequently force-fed beer through a tube, as documented in court proceedings reported by The Independent.

The excessive consumption of alcohol led to Santulli suffering a cardiac arrest, rendering him blind, unable to speak, and reliant on a wheelchair for mobility.

"The night of the pledge event turned into a nightmare," the family recounted in emotional testimonies during legal proceedings. "Danny was subjected to unimaginable pressures and forced to endure activities that put his life at risk."

Screenshot 2024-07-01 at 16.05.45.jpgDanny's mom says her son will need 'care for life'. Credit: Change.org

Harrowing footage presented in court depicted Santulli unconscious on a sofa inside the fraternity house. Per ABC News, the teenager's limp body was manhandled numerous times after he kept slipping off the sofa. Nobody called for help.

Eventually, other fraternity members carried Danny's body to a car and transported him to the University of Missouri Hospital.

Upon their arrival, Danny was in cardiac arrest and not breathing. His blood alcohol level registered a near-lethal .46. He spent six weeks in intensive care.

According to the lawsuit filed by the Santulli family, the fraternity house was stocked with drugs and alcohol to ensure a memorable night for the pledges, who were coerced into consuming substances under duress.

"He was sleep deprived, was having to buy things for the fraternity brothers with his own money and was repeatedly ordered to clean the brothers' rooms and bring food, alcohol and marijuana to them at all hours of the night," the lawsuit read. "Making matters worse, during the pledging process, Danny had been ordered to climb inside of a trash can that had broken glass in it."

A Change.org petition set up calling for those responsibile to be held accountable went on to reach more than 100,000 signatures.

Among those held accountable for their roles in the tragic incident is Ryan P. Delanty of Ballwin, who served as Santulli's "pledge father".


Delanty pleaded guilty to misdemeanor hazing and supplying alcohol to a minor, ultimately receiving a six-month jail sentence and six months on house arrest back in May, per KRCG.

During Delanty's sentencing hearing, members of the Santulli family delivered poignant statements, expressing profound anguish over the irreversible harm inflicted upon Danny.

"When something bad happens, true colors come out," the family shared. "We hope Ryan and others involved understand the devastation they've caused to our family. Danny did not deserve this."

In addition to Delanty, other fraternity members faced legal consequences for their roles in the hazing incident. Samuel Gandhi and Alec Wetzler also pleaded guilty, acknowledging their involvement in supplying alcohol and participating in the hazardous activities that led to Santulli's life-altering injuries.

Thomas Shultz, another fraternity member implicated in the incident, pleaded guilty to charges related to supplying alcohol to a minor. He received a 30-day jail sentence, probation, community service, and mandatory education programs on substance abuse.

Reflecting on the ongoing impact of the incident, Danny's mother, Mary Pat Santulli, expressed the family's determination to seek justice and prevent similar tragedies.

"He'll need care for life. He's still not talking or walking. He's in a wheelchair. He lost his vision but he hears us, and he knows we're there," mom Mary shared with ABC News. "We'll keep fighting, and we won't give up hope."

"The fact that they knew he was in distress, with his lips blue, and nobody called 911—it's unbelievable. I mean, even a 6-year-old knows to call 911," his mom added.

Danny's father said his son was "100%" hazed, with his brother adding that the other students didn't treat Danny like a "brother" or a "friend".

The University of Missouri has since revoked the fraternity's charter.

Featured image credit: Change.org

Student left blind and 'needing care for life' after university hazing ends in tragedy

vt-author-image

By stefan armitage

Article saved!Article saved!

The family of University of Missouri student Danny Santulli has spoken out after their son was left permanently disabled following a catastrophic hazing ritual.

Screenshot 2024-07-01 at 16.05.40.jpgThe then-19-year-old was left blind and unable to walk or talk. Credit: Change.org

The Santulli family has bravely stepped forward to issue a stark warning against the dangers of hazing, following the October 2021 incident at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house.

Santulli, then 19 years old, endured a harrowing night where he was forced to drink a 1.75-liter bottle of Tito’s vodka and was subsequently force-fed beer through a tube, as documented in court proceedings reported by The Independent.

The excessive consumption of alcohol led to Santulli suffering a cardiac arrest, rendering him blind, unable to speak, and reliant on a wheelchair for mobility.

"The night of the pledge event turned into a nightmare," the family recounted in emotional testimonies during legal proceedings. "Danny was subjected to unimaginable pressures and forced to endure activities that put his life at risk."

Screenshot 2024-07-01 at 16.05.45.jpgDanny's mom says her son will need 'care for life'. Credit: Change.org

Harrowing footage presented in court depicted Santulli unconscious on a sofa inside the fraternity house. Per ABC News, the teenager's limp body was manhandled numerous times after he kept slipping off the sofa. Nobody called for help.

Eventually, other fraternity members carried Danny's body to a car and transported him to the University of Missouri Hospital.

Upon their arrival, Danny was in cardiac arrest and not breathing. His blood alcohol level registered a near-lethal .46. He spent six weeks in intensive care.

According to the lawsuit filed by the Santulli family, the fraternity house was stocked with drugs and alcohol to ensure a memorable night for the pledges, who were coerced into consuming substances under duress.

"He was sleep deprived, was having to buy things for the fraternity brothers with his own money and was repeatedly ordered to clean the brothers' rooms and bring food, alcohol and marijuana to them at all hours of the night," the lawsuit read. "Making matters worse, during the pledging process, Danny had been ordered to climb inside of a trash can that had broken glass in it."

A Change.org petition set up calling for those responsibile to be held accountable went on to reach more than 100,000 signatures.

Among those held accountable for their roles in the tragic incident is Ryan P. Delanty of Ballwin, who served as Santulli's "pledge father".


Delanty pleaded guilty to misdemeanor hazing and supplying alcohol to a minor, ultimately receiving a six-month jail sentence and six months on house arrest back in May, per KRCG.

During Delanty's sentencing hearing, members of the Santulli family delivered poignant statements, expressing profound anguish over the irreversible harm inflicted upon Danny.

"When something bad happens, true colors come out," the family shared. "We hope Ryan and others involved understand the devastation they've caused to our family. Danny did not deserve this."

In addition to Delanty, other fraternity members faced legal consequences for their roles in the hazing incident. Samuel Gandhi and Alec Wetzler also pleaded guilty, acknowledging their involvement in supplying alcohol and participating in the hazardous activities that led to Santulli's life-altering injuries.

Thomas Shultz, another fraternity member implicated in the incident, pleaded guilty to charges related to supplying alcohol to a minor. He received a 30-day jail sentence, probation, community service, and mandatory education programs on substance abuse.

Reflecting on the ongoing impact of the incident, Danny's mother, Mary Pat Santulli, expressed the family's determination to seek justice and prevent similar tragedies.

"He'll need care for life. He's still not talking or walking. He's in a wheelchair. He lost his vision but he hears us, and he knows we're there," mom Mary shared with ABC News. "We'll keep fighting, and we won't give up hope."

"The fact that they knew he was in distress, with his lips blue, and nobody called 911—it's unbelievable. I mean, even a 6-year-old knows to call 911," his mom added.

Danny's father said his son was "100%" hazed, with his brother adding that the other students didn't treat Danny like a "brother" or a "friend".

The University of Missouri has since revoked the fraternity's charter.

Featured image credit: Change.org