A Garces Memorial High School graduate has died after a night of drinking at a Fresno State fraternity house. Eighteen-year-old Phil Dhanens fell into a coma and was put on life support over the weekend. He died Sunday at a Fresno hospital.
"Everyone loved him. He just had a heart of gold. Everyone knew him as Big Phil," said Zoe Tucker.
Standing at almost 6'6" tall and 330 pounds, Dhanens towered over his girlfriend Zoe Tucker, even in her six inch heels. "People were intimidated by him but as soon as they met him they were like this guy is great," continued Tucker.
Dhanens was a big guy, with an even bigger heart. "He was just so sweet and caring," she noted.
Dhanens and Tucker met during their freshman year at Garces Memorial High School. "He still says he doesn't remember, but we were in the same summer school class," noted Tucker.
The two were high school sweethearts. In April, they were crowned prom king and queen. Now, she wears his senior class ring around her neck in his honor. "He made everyone feel like you'd know him forever," she continued.
Dhanens was well known at Garces Memorial High School, especially on the football field. He was part of the varsity team his senior year.
"Just as loveable and as nice a kid as you'll ever meet. When he got on the football field, he turned into a different guy and his teammates loved him for that. I really love being around these kids and it's kids like Philip Dhanens, is why I do this," said Jim Maples, Garces Memorial football coach.
After graduating from Garces, Dhanens left for his first year of college at Fresno State University. Last week, he accepted an invitation to join the Theta Chi fraternity.
"I told him just be careful," said Tucker.
On Friday night, Dhanens made his way to an off-campus party at the fraternity house, where Tucker said, she was told, he drank two bottles of rum and passed out.
"I just wish there were some people to look out for him. I wish I was there to look after him, to keep him from doing anything to hurt his family or him," said Tucker.
Dhanens was rushed to the hospital early Saturday morning. Tucker said he had brain damage and was in a coma, on life support.
"I was like this can't be happening. My heart was in knots and I was like no he's going to be okay. He's going to pull through. He's going to make it," she continued.
Dhanens died Sunday morning.
"I just don't think it's real and I just keep thinking I'm going to wake up and he's going to be there, but I know he's not," said Tucker.
"When I see pictures I look at them and I just can't think about what we won't be able to ever do again. I just can't think about what's going to happen next or how I'm going to go on without having this guy in my life that I've known for so long, that's become another part of me," she continued.
"I know God had a better plan. I just wish he would have let me have him a little longer," said Tucker.
Fresno State University has suspended the Theta Chi fraternity. The Fresno Police Department is investigating Dhanens' death and an autopsy was pending Monday night.