A 19-year-old Penn State sophomore died after he was allegedly forced to consume “life threatening amount of alcohol” during a pledging ceremony by a campus fraternity.
As the reports indicate, Timothy Piazza fell down a flight of stairs while participating in a hazing ritual at the Beta Theta Pi chapter house. He sustained multiple injuries and fell unconscious, but instead of calling 911 or seeking medical help, the fraternity brothers tried to cover up the evidence that could have implicated them in the horrific accident – including text messages and private chats.
Piazza died two days later on Feb. 4.
Nearly three months after the tragic death, the Centre County District Attorney announced more than 850 charges against the fraternity and its 18 members — including involuntary manslaughter, hazing, aggravated and simple assault, providing alcohol to minors and evidence tampering among several others.
The grand jury also concluded the fraternity brothers did not call the authorities until 12 hours later, during which the reportedly continued to party.
Further details are just as harrowing.
The investigation revealed Piazza fell down the fraternity house's basement steps after allegedly being forced to drink four to five alcoholic beverages within two minutes at a series of drinking stations, referred to as the "gauntlet" during the pledging party.
This led the teenager hunched over, to a couch and later trying unsuccessfully to open the front door, then “severely staggering” in the direction of the basement steps.
This happened a little before 11 p.m.
He was found unconscious on the stairs the next morning. Earlier, a fraternity brother had sent a group message, shortly before 12 p.m. that Piazza “might actually be a problem. He fell 15 feet down a flight of stairs, hair-first, going to need help.”
Video evidence showed some of the brothers carrying Piazza to a couch. His body was floppy and he appeared unconscious with a bruise on his abdomen.
As Piazza lay on the couch, the findings revealed that some brothers allegedly threw water or some sort of liquid on his face, slapped him multiple times, struck him on his bruised abdomen, and attached a backpack to him to most likely prevent him from rolling over.
But this isn’t where the ignorant brutality stopped.
When a new pledge got upset and asked others to call 911 for help, they said he was being crazy as they had the situation in control. Some of the brothers, who were also very drunk apparently, started fighting, and one of them physically landed on top of the unconscious teenager’s body.
During the entire ordeal, some fraternity members even clicked pictures for Snapchat.
"If need be, just tell them what I told you guys, found him behind an away bar the next morning at around 10 a.m., and he was freezing cold, but we decided to call 911 instantly, because the kid's health was paramount,” a fraternity bro told fellow pledges in a recovered message.
According to the medical officials, Piazza suffered from respiratory failure due to severe head trauma and compromised brain function. He also had multiple traumatic brain injuries and a fracture at the base of his skull.
Jim Piazza, father of Tim Piazza speaks about charges. pic.twitter.com/njPHW8kVMf— Frank Esposito (@FqEsposito) May 5, 2017
While the charges were being announced for this horrendous incident, Piazza’s parents stood by. His father later gave an emotional speech at the press conference.
Eric Barron, the president of Penn State, responded to the grand jury’s findings with a statement expressing horror and determination to enforce strict new rules.
"The alleged details in the grand jury presentment, which suggest the inhumane treatment of a student forced through hazing to consume dangerous amounts of alcohol and endure hours of suffering, are sickening and difficult to understand," it read.
Leaders of Beta Theta Pi International also responded in a written statement, saying the charges “are incredibly disheartening as the organization and its membership continue to grieve Tim’s passing and the pain experienced by his family.”