Eighteen members of the Penn State's Beta Theta Pi fraternity face a variety of charges after a pledge was drunkenly killed during a hazing event.
Out of the eighteen, eight face a charge of involuntary manslaughter.
The charges stem from the death of 19-year-old Timothy Piazza, a first-year engineering student at the university. Piazza was pledging to be a member of Beta Theta Pi and attended a bid acceptance party on February 2nd, an event swimming in alcohol—the frat members had bought nearly $1,200 worth of booze to mark the day
According to Centre County District Attorney's investigation, one of the rituals that took place at the party was something the frat boys called "the gauntlet." This involved the pledges hitting up station after station where they would shoot vodka, shotgun a beer or other activities. Soon after taking part in events like this, Piazza's blood alcohol content skyrocketed to almost 0.40.
In this state Piazza stumbled towards the stairs leading to the frat house's basement, fell head first and suffered head injuries. According the the prosecutor, frat members picked up the 19-year-old and brought him to a couch and tried to watch over him. From here Piazza got worse and at no point did the frat members attempt to get him professional help. The young man was suffering from serious head wounds, had trouble standing, and fell down the stairs again. In the morning the frat members once again found him in a bad state and one googled "what to do for a head injury."
After finding Piazza, the members of the fraternity tried to revive him for 40 minutes during which they again did not call paramedics. When Piazza was finally brought to the hospital it was found that his spleen was "shattered," he suffered extensive internal bleeding, and extensive head injuries. He underwent several surgeries, including a temporal lobotomy to reduce brain swelling but Piazza died in the early hours of February 4th.
According to the investigation, some of the members attempted to delete messages in regards to Piazza and ordered other pledges to clean up some of the evidence of hazing.
Timothy's father, Jim, views the death of his son as something that could have been easily avoided. Speaking at a news conference the elder Piazza stated, "I've said this before: This didn't have to happen."
"This is the result of a feeling of entitlement, flagrant disobedience of the law and disregard for moral values that was then exacerbated by egregious acts of self-preservation. Again, this did not have to happen."
The ten fraternity members who were not charged with manslaughter face charges which include aggravated assault, providing alcohol to minors, and hazing. The Beta Theta Pi chapter, which also received charges, has been permanently closed by Penn State.
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