PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — It’s only been a few months since Eric Oakes lost his only child, Adam.
“Before this happened I can’t even tell you the last time I cried, probably been 20-30 years, and now I cry multiple times every day because I miss him so much,” Oakes told WAVY.com
Adam died after an alleged hazing incident at Delta Chi fraternity at Virginia Commonwealth University.
VCU has since banned the organization permanently.
“He wanted to get the whole college experience,” Oakes said.
The pain of losing Adam is propelling the Oakes family to seek a change in Virginia law.
“If you know the law, you know what the consequences are, you’re going to think twice before telling someone to chug that bottle,” said Courtney White. She is Adam’s cousin, and has dug into the research on Virginia law.
Currently hazing is a misdemeanor in the commonwealth. The maximum punishment is a $2,500 fine and a year in jail. The Oakes want to make it a felony.
White created this petition on change.org, which has gathered more than 3,000 signatures in the past 24 hours.
“Really at this point it’s about getting the word out and if you believe in this law and you believe in this change please show your support by signing the petition,” she said.
The goal, of course, is to prevent any other family from ever suffering a loss this great, and to memorialize Adam, the 19-year-old sports fanatic who will never see another game, get a job, or get married. He was a young man taken before he could follow his dreams because, as his dad will tell you, someone made him drink.
“I miss his smile, I miss his hug, I miss his company.”
The family has met with state lawmakers to help draft a law. They will meet next month and hope to present it to the General Assembly in February.