Published: Thu, May 11, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

18 fraternity members charged over hazing death of Penn State student

Eight members also face a charge of involuntary manslaughter.

This story originally appeared on USA TODAY College.

Piazza tumbled down a flight of stairs that night and fell several other times, injuring his head, officials said. "You don't win by even charging these young men because the only win is for him to be alive", said Stacy Parks Miller, Centre County district attorney.

"This is a very sad day for Centre County - it's been sad ever since we lost a child for reasons that are totally preventable. We are all heartbroken as we stand here".

"No parent should have to go through this", Jim Piazza said.

Those responsible for the death of a Penn State University fraternity pledge "deserve to be punished", the attorney for the family of the student, Timothy Piazza, told CNN. The investigation benefited from video evidence from surveillance cameras inside the fraternity's house, which is privately owned. ABC News noted that while all fraternity members charged with involuntary manslaughter were arraigned on Friday, a few additional defendants will be arraigned early next week.

Although Beta Theta Pi is supposed to be a dry fraternity, testimony showed a coordinated effort to purchase alcohol for fraternity events.

From there, the pledges had to drink from a wine bag while fraternity brothers poured beer on them. Massively drunk, he fell down a flight of stairs, twice, suffering critical bleeding in his belly and his skull.

Another pledge testified before the grand jury that he woke up at about 7 a.m. and saw Piazza on a couch.

Video shows fraternity brothers carrying a limp Piazza up the stairs with a bruise that had bloomed and was visible on video.

Four brothers allegedly carried him upstairs after the fall and placed him on a couch that night but no one called 911 till the next morning.

He's later seen trying unsuccessfully to open the front door, then "severely staggering drunkenly toward the basement steps" at about 10:45 p.m., the grand jury report said. A county grand jury investigation led to the charges.

Heavy reported that doctors discovered Piazza had a shattered spleen and found 80% of the his total blood supply in his abdomen.

His chest was bare, he was breathing heavily, and he had blood on his face, according to the presentment.

In one recovered message, a pledge member told fellow pledges: "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 made a decision to call 911 instantly, because the kid's health was paramount". He died in a hospital on February 4th.

Frat members reportedly discussed deleting conversations before they talked to the authorities. "And when they brought him up this last time, he was in dire ... need of help". He is facing tampering with evidence charges in connection with the case.

Reporter: Tonight, graduation weekend at Penn state university and the campus in shock.

Students said Behrend has been cracking down on Greek Life for years, so the hazing climate isn't as severe. "The former undergraduate members were well educated by the International Fraternity and Penn State on these policies; however, they are entitled to the presumption of innocence as they face these charges".

He was studying engineering at Penn State and pledging the Beta Theta Pi fraternity.

Back in February, a PSU fraternity that claimed to be alcohol free, held a party created to intoxicate its newest pledges.

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