Adam Jeffrey Oakes
October 6, 2001 - February 27, 2021
The family of Adam Oakes prepared this narrative in his memory:
Adam Jeffrey Oakes grew up in Potomac Falls, Virginia with his parents, Linda and Eric Oakes. Growing up, Adam was an only child and played little league baseball, basketball, and football. Adam loved to play basketball with his dad and friends, debate about and watch sports on TV, play video games like Call of Duty and NBA2K, and spend time with his family and friends. His favorite basketball player was Russell Westbrook (of the Wizards at the time of Adam’s death), and his favorite teams included the San Francisco 49ers and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Adam had a warm disposition, sweet smile, and loving heart. All who knew him loved him, and he loved them in return. He attended Countryside Elementary School, River Bend Middle School, and graduated from Potomac Falls High School in 2020. At the time of his passing, Adam was a freshman at VCU.
On February 23, 2021, Adam received a bid from the Delta Chi Fraternity at VCU, which has since been permanently banned from VCU. Adam, like most freshmen going off to college, wanted to be accepted in his new environment, especially during the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic. He was looking to make new friends, find a sense of belonging, and make VCU his home. The fraternity promised that belonging.
The night of February 26, 2021, Adam's first night as a Delta Chi pledge, would be his last. He and a group of other pledges attended a dangerous fraternity ritual known as the “Big and Little Brother Reveal Night,” known in the fraternity and sorority community as one of the “three deadly nights.” 1 At this event, Adam was given a ”family drink” made by his “big brother.” The pledges were required to consume the family drink. Directly following that, Adam was given a large bottle of Jack Daniels to drink. Despite showing clear signs of life-threatening alcohol poisoning, and needing immediate medical help, no one called for help. Adam died on the floor of the house, alone.
The actions that surrounded and led to Adam’s death were hazing. That night, any one of the members of Delta Chi could have called 911, gotten Adam help, and saved his life. Adam’s death was preventable.
Adam is missed every day by his family, friends, and community. His family created the Love Like Adam Foundation in honor of Adam. The Foundation provides hazing-prevention education to universities and high schools throughout Virginia. Their mission is to raise awareness of the dangers of hazing, to save lives, and work to ensure that that no other family has to experience the pain of losing a child in such a tragic and preventable way.