Robert Champion agreed to go into Bus C because he was vying for the top job at Florida A&M University's Marching 100 band and thought it would impress his band mates.
But that hazing ritual — a relentless, brutal beating — would cost him his life. That's the picture painted by a cache of new documents released today in Florida.
The New York Times reports:
"Hours after performing at the Florida Classic, a football game in Orlando, Mr. Champion, 26, a drum major, entered the dark bus and was pummeled with hands, drumsticks and straps on Nov. 19. Band members crammed into the bus and struck and kicked Mr. Champion as he slowly tried to walk past to touch the back of the bus. Once he did that, the ritual dubbed "crossing Bus C" would be complete.
"Mr. Champion made it to the back and then collapsed. He died shortly after of "hemorrhagic shock caused by blunt-force trauma," according to the medical examiner's report."
The AP reports that several others who had been through the hazing ritual said "the ordeal leaves participants dizzy and breathless at a minimum." The Orlando Sentinel reports that before Champion crossed Bus C, he had been put through the "hot seat," a hazing ritual that involves suffocation.
The Sentinel reports that the Champion family attorney said the university still had not "faced up to its responsibility."
Champion's mother vowed to continue her activism.
"My fight here is to make sure everybody's child is safe," Pamela Champion said according to the Sentinel. "So there's got to be changes. Got to be."
Eleven members of the band are facing felony hazing charges.