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MacArthur High alum dies at UT Austin frat house

MacArthur High alum Phanta “Jack” Phoummarath, 18, died December 10 in a fraternity house on the University of Texas campus in Austin. The Travis County medical examiner ruled the cause of death as acute alcohol poisoning.

Phoummarath’s body was found following a party to celebrate the acceptance of Phoummarath and six other males as new members of Lamda Phi Epsilon, a national Asian-American fraternity.

An investigation is continuing. So far no charges have been brought against the fraternity or its members. The fraternity is a registered student group on campus, but is not an official fraternity in the school’s Greek system. Lamda Phi Epsilon is now on temporary suspension while UT’s administration gathers more information.

The Phoummarath family moved to Houston in 1979 after emigrating from Laos. Jack was the youngest of five children. Those who knew Jack say he was a generous, bright, people-person. Jack was known to tutor classmates, give a ride to friends, and help out whereever needed.

According to research conducted on alcohol and metabolism, for an average sized young man to suffer acute alcohol poisoning, he would have to consume the equivalent of 12 beers in one hour.

One to two students die each year on the UT campus from alcohol poisoning.

Phoummarath is the first student to die from alcohol poisoning in Austin this year. This is the second such death in the Lamda Phi Epsilon fraternity this year nationwide.

Each year, 1,700 18-to-24 year olds die from alcohol related auto accidents and alcohol poisoning, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. In addition to the 1,700 deaths, alcohol is linked to 50,000 injuries and 97,000 incidents of sexual assault among students alone each year.