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Family grieving student killed by fraternity initiation



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(Logan, Utah) The family of the Utah State student who died of an apparent alcohol overdose is grieving the loss Sunday. The 18-year-old freshman died Friday morning with a blood alcohol level described as "extreme."

Police are investigating the incident, which may have been tied to hazing; but today, a family friend told us they're only focusing on remembering Michael Starks.

Family friend Scott Burdette said, "It's emotional because it's so hard to know that we lost a great person."

Burdette wouldn't comment on the investigation; he said the family will make a statement once they have all the facts. Most importantly he says they're trying to come to terms with the fact that a son, a brother, a friend is gone.

Starks had just entered college and dreamed of becoming a firefighter. "Any time you lose someone at such an early age, it's definitely senseless," Burdette said.

Now Logan Police are trying to make sense of what happened to Starks. Utah State University says Starks was in the process of becoming a Sigma Nu fraternity member, and after a night of drinking, no one could save his life.

Burdette said, "He was getting his own taste of who he was, and this has happened."

Burdette was close to Starks. He says Starks was a great kid, not into drugs or alcohol. That's why this was so surprising. On top of everything, Starks' brother owns the funeral home where he's now resting.

"Michael Starks' family, they just had to go through the process of having to prepare their brother, their son's body for services. And that's more than any one person should have to take on," Burdette said.

He says one of the most difficult tasks so far was gathering Starks' things from his off-campus house.

"Asking questions why? And will he be coming home? You expect at any time he's just going to get up and be there," he said.

A vigil service will be held on Monday at 7 p.m. at the Cathedral of the Madeleine, 331 East South Temple, Salt Lake City. Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Tuesday at 11 a.m., also at the church. Interment will follow at Mount Calvary Catholic Cemetery.

E-mail: ngonzales @ksl.com

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Nicole Gonzales

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