Clemson student was from Piedmont

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The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the death of a 19-year-old Clemson University student who was found in a shallow area of Lake Hartwell near campus Monday. The student, Tucker W. Hipps, of Piedmont, was a Clemson University sophomore and a former Wren High School athlete.

According to reports, Hipps had been reported missing Monday afternoon. His body was found by Clemson University campus police at 3 p.m. Monday between the two bridges on S. C. Hwy. 93 near the YMCA beach. Authorities pulled his body, which was in four to five feet of water about nine feet from shore, from the water at 5:15 p.m. Monday.

Clemson police and SC Department of Natural Resources officials assisted the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office in the recovery. An autopsy was scheduled for Tuesday morning officials said.

Hipps was a 2013 graduate of Wren High School where he was on the Principal’s List and a member of the football team.

In a news release issued by Anderson School District One, school officials stated they are deeply saddened by the death of former Wren student.

“He was greatly loved by everyone that knew him. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Tucker,” it stated. Superintendent David Havird and the District extend its deepest sympathy to Tucker’s family and friends in this time of loss.

Wren High School Principal Nichole Boseman said, “Even though Tucker graduated in 2013, when students come through Wren High they are part of our family forever. We have very fond memories of him being here. His infectious smile and outgoing personality will forever be remembered. He made a positive impact on the school and community. His involvement with extra-curricular activities like sports and Boys State represents the Hurricane spirit. Our hearts and prayers go out to the Hipps family.”

Jeff Tate, Wren High Athletic Director said, “Tucker was a great teammate on the football team. He had a great personality and will be greatly missed by his former teammates, the faculty and staff of Wren High.”

Hipps fraternity at Clemson University also issued a statement which read: “Sigma  Phi  Epsilon  is  saddened  to  learn  about  the  death  of  Clemson  student  Tucker  Hipps.  Hipps  was  a   sophomore  at  the  university  and  a  member  of  SigEp’s  Clemson  chapter.”    

It states, “A  representative  from  the  Fraternity’s  national  office  arrived  at  Clemson  on  Monday  evening  and  is   working  with  the  university  to  ensure  that  members  of  the  chapter  receive  the  support  and  counseling they  need  during  this  difficult  time.”    

Fraternity  CEO  Brian  Warren  said  in  a  statement  Tuesday,  “This  is  a  time  for  mourning,  and  our  hearts  and   prayers  are  with  the  Hipps  family.”    

The  Fraternity  is  aware  of  allegations  being  made  through  social  media  that  the  death  was  in  some  way   linked  to  hazing.  SigEp  has  a  zero  tolerance  policy  regarding  hazing  and  is  currently  investigating  these   claims.  

Warren  responded  to  the  allegations  of  hazing  saying,  “We’ve  lost  the  life  of  a  young  man,  a  life  that  was   taken  way  too  soon.  There  are  a  lot  of  people  who  are  hurting  right  now,  and  that’s  our  number  one   priority  at  the  moment.  But  if  foul  play  was  involved  in  any  way,  Tucker’s  fraternity  will  do  everything  it   can  to  see  that  those  responsible  are  brought  to  justice.”    

According to the statement,  the  national  office  asked  the  chapter  to  suspend  all  scheduled  programming  to  focus on  supporting  those  close  to  Tucker  Hipps.