The former president of Ohio University’s Sigma Pi fraternity pleaded guilty Tuesday to multiple charges connected to the death of Collin Wiant.
Elijah Wahib, 22, of Westlake, entered a guilty plea to two counts of obstructing justice, two counts of hazing and permitting drug abuse, according to a press release from the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office.
Those charges are the result of the death of Wiant on Nov. 12, 2018. Wiant, 18, of Dublin, died at OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital due to asphyxiation of nitrous oxide, according to a previous Post report.
Judge Patrick J. Lang ordered Wahib to complete the Prosecutor's Office Athens County Empowerment, or A.C.E, Program. Lang also sentenced Wahib to 31 days in jail on the misdemeanor hazing charges, according to the press release.
Previously, Dominic Figliola, 21, of Athens, was convicted of hazing, a fourth-degree misdemeanor, as a result of Wiant’s death. Additionally, Cullen McLaughlin, 21, of Northfield, was convicted on two charges of possession of LSD; Zachary Herskovitz, 22, of Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to permitting drug use; and Saxon Angell-Perez, 22, pleaded guilty to cocaine possession, permitting drug abuse and misdemeanor hazing charges.
The Wiant family has mixed feelings about the outcome of the Wahib’s hearing.
“A lot of people said ... a month in jail isn’t long, it’s not sufficient. I don’t focus on that because there’s nothing in the world that could balance the loss of losing Collin,” Kathleen Wiant, Collin’s mother, said. “Instead, I focus on ‘OK, what good can come of this?’ And I think all of the men involved in this. The anti-hazing work that they can do could be incredibly powerful, and it could really save a lot of people from any involvement from hazing.”
Following Collin’s death, the family started a fund to memorialize him called The Collin Wiant Foundation.
“Shortly after Collin died, we knew we wanted to do something to memorialize him,” Kathleen said. “So we decided to start it and call it the Collin Wiant Foundation and build on the pillars of kindness and courage.”
The foundation provides a number of scholarships in Wiant’s memory, and the family provides anti-hazing education to college students.
“I continue to work with the Wiant family to amend Hazing Laws in Ohio to make this kind of behavior punishable as a felony in the future,” Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn said in the press release. “It is my hope along with the Wiants to stop this vicious cycle.”
The Wiant family hopes to see significant changes in the future, in addition to involvement from the students charged in Wiant’s death, in order to end hazing on college campuses.
“I hope to see that they have the opportunity to get their message, their story out to students their age and that they get to share that, and that we really can end hazing … that the whole idea of it becomes obsolete,” Kathleen said.