Bills aimed to save young lives will soon become law

(WVUE) - After an emotional plea for tougher hazing penalties, the law will soon change.

"Now our family is broken. We will never be the same," says Rae Ann Gruver.

Her son, freshman Max Gruver, died at the Phi Delta Fraternity last fall after a hazing ritual on LSU's campus.

"These are not children. These are young men that are doing it to other young men. All I need to tell them is stop being lost in the sea of dumb. Don't be stupid. Don't do something like that and if you are, you'll suffer the consequences," says Senator John Kennedy.

The 'Max Gruver Act' makes hazing which results in death a felony crime. Anyone found to have participated in hazing that leaves someone seriously injured or dead will get a prison term up to five years and a fine that can't exceed 10 thousand dollars. Current law treats hazing as a misdemeanor.

"Something very bad happened to our son. House Bill 78 will help us ultimately create good in this state and the rest of our country," says Stephen Gruver.

"Our universities need to do a better job, and I'm not saying they've been turning their head, but for years they kind of just took the attitude of boys will boys," says Senator John Kennedy.

"I miss his personality, his sense of humor and the smile that would light up any room," says Karen Morgan, referring to her son.

Morgan also worked to get another law changed after losing her son from a drug overdose. She says her son's acquaintance could've made a difference.

"We believe the friend left him for over four and half hours," says Morgan.

The Governor will soon sign the 'duty to assist' bill into law, which imposes penalties against those who don't call for help when they have knowledge of someone on death's door.

"If a death does not occur, it's a one thousand dollar fine, up to one year in jail with hard labor. If a death does occur, it's a two thousand dollar fine and five years in jail,"  says Morgan.

Parents who fought for change are now hoping new laws will prevent others from suffering in the future.

Copyright 2018 WVUE. All rights reserved.