September 23, 2005

09/23/05: Patrick Kycia, 19, Moorhead, MN

Patrick Kycia
Patrick Kycia, a well-liked, well-adjusted 19-year old college student with a 3.65 grade-point average, made what was supposed to be a quick stop at a Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity house party but ended up doing shots of whiskey with his friends. Sometime after midnight, Kycia left the party for home but never made it. His body was found in the Red River four days later.

Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity house
The Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity house (right) has a reputation for parties and that night they were selling beer for $1 a can and passing around whiskey. Kycia did whiskey shots with his friends. According to an interview his family and roommates gave to CNN, sometime after midnight, Kycia left the party and started to make his way home to the home he rented with three other students just six blocks away.

After three blocks, investigators say he turned in a driveway, then stopped. A homeowner found his wallet with cash and bank cards still in it and evidence he had vomited. It appears that he then kept going because at about 4:00 a.m., a janitor spotted an intoxicated student matching Kycia's description, pulling on the doors of a building. [In another news story, witnesses reported seeing a man matching Kycia's description walking alone toward the river on Eighth Street near Main Avenue between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. It is unclear whether this was the sighting made by the janitor.] Sometime after that, Kycia called his roommate, but he hung up. [Two calls were placed from Kycia's cell phone with no talking in either call.] His roommate called him back right away, but there was no answer.

Police expanded the search for Kycia after a New Balance sneaker (similar to one Kycia was wearing when last seen) was found floating on the Red River. On 9/27/05, police found Patrick's body in the river.

Unanswered Questions
Patrick reportedly left the party around midnight, yet someone possibly spotted him walking toward the river around 4 a.m. This sighting raises many questions. If this really was Patrick, what had he been doing between the time he left the party (midnight) and when he was spotted (4 a.m.)? Why didn't anyone notice him sooner? If the sighting was genuine, it means that Kycia walked south where he dropped his wallet, then changed his mind and went north where he was spotted, and then headed southwest before reaching the river and falling in. How was he able to walk that far if he was so impaired? Why would Kycia head off campus? But perhaps the biggest question is how he ended up in the river.

Map from

Another Sad Lesson
A year and a half before Patrick Kycia's death, on March 15, 2004, another Phi Sigma Kappa member, Jason Reinhardt, died of alcohol poisoning after trying to do a "power hour"--21 shots in an hour, to celebrate his twenty first birthday. He made it to 16. That night, he slept at the frat house, and friends say when they checked on Jason, he was fine. But the next day, Reinhardt was found in bed lying in his own vomit. He was deceased.

Final Autopsy Report
The final autopsy report on Patrick Kycia showed he been drinking the night he died, and had a blood alcohol content of .17--above the legal limit for driving. THC, a chemical in marijuana was also found in his blood stream, but since marijuan can remain in the body for several weeks, it is unknown when Kycia had ingested it. Although police had confiscated hallucinogenic mushrooms from the fraternity house after the party, no traces of mushrooms were found in Kycia's system. There was no trauma to the body.

Arrests and lawsuit
On October 9, 2005, seven Phi Sigma Kappa members were arrested in the death of Patrick Kycia on charges that included selling liquor to a minor resulting in death, selling alcohol without a license and procuring alcohol to a person under 21 years old. Although a fraternity member admitted to selling beer at the party and Kycia had a blood-alcohol level of .17 at the time of his death, the fraternity claims that none of its members served Kycia any drugs or alcohol.

Patrick's father later filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the university, the local fraternity, its national chapter, the owner of the fraternity house and eight people who were convicted of alcohol-related offenses connected to Kycia's death. As of 11/18/06, one of the fraternity brothers, James Joseph Sander Jr., agreed to settle. He denies liability for Kycia's death but agreed he's responsible for $1 million in damages, which is supposed to be paid by the insurance company insuring Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity's national chapter and its members. Sander pleaded guilty last December to providing alcohol to minors. He was fined $1,000 and sentenced to 180 days in jail with all but two days stayed, receiving credit for the two days he had already served in jail.

Facts of Interest in This Case
Name/age: Patrick Kycia, 19 (from Stillwater, MN)
College: Minnesota State University-Moorhead
Physical description: 6'1," 230 #
Last seen: 09/23/05, Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity party
Recovered: 09/27/05, Red River
Cause of death: drowning
Manner of death: no information
Injuries: no signs of trauma or foul play
Blood Alcohol Content: 0.174


Anonymous said...

I was a friend of Pat and it is very sad that this happened to him he had a very kind heart and was like a teddy bear! I feel like something else happened that night and I also feel like we will never know what truly happened to him.

Anonymous said...

I would SOOO like to hear from people that knew Patrick... It helps me to feel connected to him still... thank you to whomever wrote that.. it was exactly what he was.
Pat's mom

Anonymous said...

Right around this time of year I definitely feel a weight on my heart. I knew Pat, and I honestly believe that something else happened that night. I wish all of the time that I could've been there that night and changed things. He's in a better place now..but I just wish things could've been different. We miss you Pat.

Anonymous said...

I miss Patrick terribly! My son looked at a picture of him and I and said "that's mama... and that's an angel". The sweetest thing that I've heard in a long time. And i don't know where he heard or got that from. Patrick is an angel and remains kindly in our hearts and thoughts.

colleenh2525 said...

Not a day goes by that I don't think of you Pat. I can't believe that if has been four years since you were taken from us. I have so many fun memories of you growing up and often think about the times we spent in Ely. Who could have asked for more? (even if you cheated at EVERY game we played!)
I had dinner with Ryan tonight and we talked about you and how much we miss you. You were way too young to leave us and you will always be a part of our lives. We keep you in our hearts and feel you with us at our family gatherings. God bless you Pat.

Love, Colleen

Lisa said...

My thoughts are with Pat and his family at this difficult time of year. You are all in my thoughts and prayers!

Anonymous said...

To the Kycia family,

I know that this week marks 5 years since Pat left us and my thoughts and prayers are with you everyday! There isn't a day that passes where myself or Dustin will say something reminds of us Pat. He is always on our minds. We miss his goofy personality. We love you Pat!

Liz & Dustin

anna said...

I cant believe its been 5 years, we all still miss you and your wonderful personality so much!!! I will never forget the good times had when you were around you were always the life of the party! Love ya May

Unknown said...

We still miss you Pat.

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