In February, the Beta Theta Pi fraternity at Penn State was suspended after the tragic death of pledge Timothy Piazza. Yesterday (May 5), 18 brothers from the fraternity, along with the fraternity as a whole, were charged for his death.
Piazza was only 19 when he died February 2, and now the Centre County District Attorney is assigning Beta Theta Pi the blame, announcing over 850 charges, Buzzfeed reports, including involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, and hazing.
Piazza passed away a full two days after the fraternity hazed him, forcing him to consume at least four alcoholic beverages within two minutes, and waiting a full 12 hours to call for help after he fell down a flight of stairs, the grand jury found.
The Centre County DA released a document that details all the haunting events of the night, including the following:
After Piazza fell down a flight of stairs, the brothers carried him to a couch, where “he appeared to be unconscious, and had a bruise on his abdomen.” They then dumped liquid on his face, slapped him, struck him on his abdomen, and attached a backpack to him.
One of the new initiates, Kordel Davis, testified that Piazza “looked horrible.” He said he repeatedly told his brothers to call 911 and screamed at them for help, but was told he was “crazy” and once shoved against a wall.
Piazza fell more times over the next 12 hours, hitting his head twice, falling into a railing, and falling into a door.
The next morning, they found him “cold to the touch…his eyes remained half-open,” and one of the brothers finally called 911 — 42 minutes later. Piazza died of respiratory failure due to head trauma and compromised brain function.
“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,” Penn State president Eric J. Barron said in a statement.
Timothy’s father, Jim Piazza, called his son’s death the result of “a disobedience of law, a disregard for moral values which was then exacerbated by…egregious acts of self-preservation.”
He is referring to the number of GroupMe and text messages from members of the fraternity that suggest they were concerned for their own consequences, and that this in part led to Piazza’s death, the grand jury found.
It’s a devastating account of the dangers of hazing, and the necessity to take care of each other when you’re drinking — which these fraternity members absolutely did not do. Calling for help immediately after their pledge fell down the stairs could have saved his life.