When two members of one fraternity died in car crashes months apart, their brothers in Phi Kappa Psi stepped forward to prevent others from suffering the same loss they did.
This wasn’t how they wanted to find a charitable mission. The brothers of Phi Kappa Psi at Syracuse University would have been perfectly happy to find a generic cause to support, one that didn’t have such a deep and painful connection. But having lost two brothers to car crashes just four months apart, taking on roadway safety was probably inevitable.
The fraternity initially started planning its Safe Driving Week at the New York state university after the death of Hunter Watson, 20, who was killed in June. Watson was a passenger in a Jeep that went through a stop sign in Maryland. The Jeep was struck on the passenger side by a Ford pick-up truck, and Watson was pronounced dead at the scene.
In October, the group held a week’s worth of events, including soliciting pledges to end distracted driving, holding a social media awareness day, accepting pies in the face in exchange for donations and hosting a Whiffle Ball tournament. But the week was cut short when another member of the fraternity was killed in a crash.
Vincent "Vinny" Maugeri, 22, died after his car went off the road and crashed and caught fire in an early morning incident. The fraternity suspended the last event of the week to grieve.
The 2016 event concluded with more than 1,000 signatures from other students pledging to end distracted driving, as well as more than $5,600 raised for the National Safety Council.
The fraternity is planning to repeat Safe Driving Week again in 2017, and hopes to raise both awareness and funds to remember the brothers it lost in 2016.