Halloween victim talks about accident

Steve Bushong

Police had hoped Kent’s annual, yet unofficial, Halloween party would end peacefully. But its end would be more bizarre than any costume, more biting than the night’s cold wind.

Dana Lim said he had his back toward the Delta Upsilon house, 202 S. Lincoln St., when he was pushed into the path of a tow truck Halloween weekend.

The 25-year-old Parma man doesn’t remember being crushed under the truck’s back tires.

“I remember trying to stand,” Lim said. “I remember my knees falling down.”

The tow truck was carrying a large pick-up. Under the combined vehicles’ weight, Lim’s upper-leg bones completely separated from his hip bone, and a hole was torn in his right leg that was too large to stitch closed — these among other injuries.

To Kent State dispatchers listening to emergency radio traffic coming back from the scene, it sounded like there was a manslaughter on South Lincoln Street.

Lim was transported to Akron City Hospital shortly after midnight on Oct. 29. There, he’d spend more than a month in the intensivecare unit.

He said he spent the first week hallucinating. The second week he spent stabilizing.

Soon thereafter, he came off the ventilator.

Last week, a hospital representative said Lim was in satisfactory condition, which is how he remained until Tuesday, when he was taken by ambulance to Metrohealth Medical Center in Cleveland to recover.

Though in satisfactory condition, Lim was bed-ridden, and the drugs pumping through his system impeded his speech.

Lim asked during a short interview Tuesday if anyone had been arrested in the accident.

He nodded his head at the news, keeping words at a minimum — keeping his throat from getting dry.

He wasn’t allowed water.

Since Oct. 29

Shortly after Lim was taken away from South Lincoln Street in an ambulance, police had the Delta Upsilon house surrounded.

Kent Police Chief James Peach said when police arrived at the scene, they were met with resistance. Those inside the fraternity house would not allow police in to take statements. Police had to obtain a search warrant to gain entry to the residence, the Daily Kent Stater reported.

On Nov. 1, Delta Upsilon President Robert Lewis told the Daily Kent Stater there was no connection between the fraternity and the “unfortunate” incident that occurred just beyond its front yard.

On Nov. 17, Delta Upsilon member Nicholas Zajac was arrested for his involvement in the incident. Kent Police charged Zajac with felonious assault, which is when a person knowingly causes serious injury to another. It is a second-degree felony.

Zajac’s trial begins Jan. 17. A pre-trial is scheduled for Jan. 12.

If Zajac is convicted for his charge, he will face a mandatory two to eight year prison term and a $15,000 fine, according to the Ohio Revised Code.

Zajac’s defense attorney, Bill Lentz, would not comment.

The Daily Kent Stater made exhaustive efforts to speak with other individuals related either directly or indirectly to Delta Upsilon or Nicholas Zajac.

Those contacted — family, friends, fraternity brothers, Kent Interfraternity Council, Zajac himself — all chose to remain silent.

The memories of that morning and everything since have been padlocked.

Fraternity history

Even a former editor of the Daily Kent Stater and Delta Upsilon alumnus, who maintained contact with the fraternity until November as the house manager, would not speak about the tribulations confronting those inside.

Michael Pfahl was president of Delta Upsilon in 2000, during a different tragedy.

John Carroll student Jared Chrzanowski died inside the house on April 9, 2000, during a party. The Portage County Coroner ruled his death as “cardiac arrhythmia, presumably due to depressant of MDMA,” which is ecstasy, the Daily Kent Stater reported in August 2000.

Pfahl was editor of the Daily Kent Stater at the time of the incident. An April 16 editorial said the days following the death were painful and trying.

“It was devastating,” he said. “A lot of grief was caused because of it.”

Pfahl would make no assumptions about whether current members of Delta Upsilon are experiencing a similar type of emotional turmoil.

Official Reaction

As a result of the Chrzanowski’s death in 2000, Kent state suspended Delta Upsilon’s university operations.

Its charter from the national office, however, stayed intact.

So far, Greek affairs coordinator Beth Gittons said no action has been taken against the fraternity for Lim’s injuries.

Dave Maguire, executive director of Delta Upsilon Fraternity International, said that no action has been taken there either.

“The matters are being investigated,” Maguire said. He said when information becomes available, “proper actions will be taken.”

Associate dean Sheryl Smith said fraternities’ and sororities’ official standing with the university are based upon the guidelines set forth in the University/Greek System Relationship Statement.

The statement says fraternities and sororities may not take part in conduct that “has the likelihood of injuring (a) person.” Failure to follow the rules will “constitute grounds for withdrawal of organizational registration by the University,” it says.

Delta Upsilon and all its members remain innocent, unless Kent Police prove otherwise.

Police stand by a Nov. 17 press release, which states that further arrests are likely. They will not elaborate, however, except in saying that the investigation continues.

Kent State spokesman Ron Kirksey said the university is also looking into the matter.

Judicial affairs could not be contacted by press time.

No conclusion

“There will be a lot going on in the coming months,” Student Legal Services staff attorney Chris Sestak said.

“Don’t be surprised if someone gets charged, and then the charges are dropped,” he said. “The police are under a lot of pressure because someone was seriously hurt.”

But no one other than Zajac has been charged, and Lim is feeling better — he doesn’t feel pain anymore, he said.

He’s happy to have friends visit him, though at times it is tiring.

He admitted liking the intensive care unit more than the general medical floor. He could sleep in the intensive care unit more often.

Lim’s muscles have been weakened to the point where he can’t swallow food. The muscles in his throat are too weak to pull food down to his stomach.

Yet, he remains positive.

“I’m thankful that such a life changing moment came to me,” Lim said. “It put me in a place where I’ll repent.”

A devoted Christian for more than 10 years, Lim was not regularly seen in church the month prior to his accident, his pastor Mike Bucher said in October after hearing news of Lim’s condition.

Bucher and other church members have begun routinely visiting Lim, bringing him CDs and other items to enjoy.

As for whoever pushed him, Lim said:

“The Lord asks me to forgive everyone.”

Contact safety reporter Steve Bushong at [email protected].