Spring Break Tragedy in Orange Beach

The Texas Tech flag was lowered Monday in memory of Brayden Chase Coverdale, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences.

Coverdale was 21 when he died in Orange Beach, Ala., on March 13. The cause of death will not be confirmed until the autopsy is completed, which could take eight to 12 weeks, but Orange Beach authorities suspect alcohol was a factor.

Photo of Brayden Coverdale from Twitter.

Photo of Brayden Coverdale from Twitter.

Coverdale graduated from Stephenville High School in 2012, along with Holton Westbrook, president of the Student Government Association.

Westbrook said the two played football and basketball together in high school.

“[Brayden] was one of those guys who was always up for anything,” Westbrook said. “He was always really witty. I always loved to hear him talk. You always knew he had a good comeback coming.”

Coverdale played football at Tarleton State before transferring to Tech.

Westbrook said Coverdale will be missed by many, and his heart goes out to his family and close friends. He said it hits close to home, especially because he sent out an email to the entire student body reminding them of spring break safety.

“On behalf of the Student Government Association, I would like to wish you a happy Spring Break, and remind you to be safe during your travels,” the email said. “Please remember that we are constant ambassadors of our University and that we must look out for one another and represent Texas Tech with integrity.”

Westbrook said that although spring break can be a very fun time, students should keep safety in mind while traveling and when they reach their destinations.

“That’s the hard part,” Westbrook said. “You’re sending it to over 30,000 students, yet you don’t realize it’s affecting one of the guys you’ve known for years.”

Whether students are on the beach or snow skiing, he said, they should be aware of their surroundings. It is important, for example, “when you go to the beach, realizing that the sun has an impact on your daily activities as well as your intake of alcohol, if that’s something you choose to partake in,” Westbrook said.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 2,221 Americans 15 or older die of alcohol poisoning each year. Of these, 76 percent are male.

Texas Tech uses AlcoholEdu, an online freshman education program, to attempt to prevent the negative effects of alcohol consumption.

The main cause of alcohol poisoning is binge drinking at a high intensity, according to the CDC. The average number of drinks per binging episode is eight. Many students plan on binge drinking during spring break, as shown by Twitter.

Even though Coverdale tweeted about visiting Gulf Shoresa city that recently decided to ban alcohol on its beaches during spring break seasonhe died in Orange Beach.

The Orange Beach Police Department posted a Facebook warning for spring breakers on March 4.

“If you are looking for a party town, the City of Orange Beach is not it,” the police department’s Facebook post said. “Underage Drinking, Illegal Drug Use, Disorderly Conduct or any other breach of the peace will not be tolerated and you will go to jail. There will be no warnings.”

As of now, Orange Beach is still allowing alcohol on its beaches. Police responded to Coverdale’s death inside a private home.

Alcohol poisoning can be hard to determine because of the variation of tolerances held by individuals. Those experiencing excessive vomiting or unconsciousness should be taken to a hospital immediately.

About Maddy McCarty

Maddy is the Graduate Executive Director for The Hub@TTU. She loves reading, writing and petting her cats. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism, is pursuing her master's in mass communications and wants to continue reporting on important issues.

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