Penn State fraternity, members charged in pledge's death

Barron said it is "numbing" that a unsafe atmosphere could occur at a fraternity that prided itself on commitment to each other and the community.

Summary: Members of a fraternity at Penn State have been charged, eight of which for involuntary manslaughter, after a pledge died from injuries obtained during a hazing event that went untreated. The night of February 2, the pledges consumed four to five drinks of wine, beer or liquor in a two-minute period, the statement said, quoting a police officer who questioned pledges.

On the night of February 2, Piazza engaged in drinking as a part of a hazing ritual known as "The Gauntlet", and his blood alcohol content reached between.28 and.36., according to the report. Piazza passed away two days later from a traumatic brain injury.

A doctor calculated that Piazza's blood-alcohol content at the time he fell down the stairs was between.28 and.36 percent.

The fraternity, the grand jury said, "cultivated such a permissive atmosphere regarding excessive alcohol consumption that Timothy Piazza's death was not simply an unfortunate accident, but was the direct result of encouraged reckless conduct that demonstrated a reckless disregard for human life, or a reckless indifference to the possible consequences of such conduct".

Casey and the other fraternity members face charges that include involuntary manslaughter, aggravated and simple assault, evidence tampering, alcohol-related violations and hazing, officials said.

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According to the report, Piazza, adhering to his responsibilities as a new pledge, got dangerously drunk and wound up falling down a flight of stairs, which did not escape the notice of his brothers-to-be: almost 11 hours before a fraternity member called 911 the following morning, several brothers were already chatting about the incident over group text. Around 7:15 a.m., video shows Piazza "staggering" toward the basement steps. He didn't respond. They put a backpack on him to keep him from rolling over. The following morning, when it became clear Piazza needed emergency medical attention, the members called for help. When that brother insisted again that Piazza required help, he was told others were biology and kinesiology majors so his opinion wasn't as valuable as theirs, it said. Piazza was placed on a couch, and an ambulance was not called until 12 hours later. When fraternity members found him the next morning, it was more than 40 minutes before they called 911. He fell onto a stone floor at 5 a.m. and was last caught on video after 7 a.m.

The fraternity brothers communicated through a group messaging system, which showed that the day after the party, Young, the president, instructed another member to clean the basement and get rid of any traces of alcohol.

"Timothy was lying on his back with his arms clenched tight at his sides and his hands in the air", jurors wrote. Most were released on bonds of $100,000. According to Erickson's testimony, Piazza was "breathing heavy", had "blood on his face", felt "cold to the touch" and appeared "pale" with his eyes half-opened.

Miller said, "He was injured and injuries were visible on his stomach".

According to the documents, a newly-initiated brother said he tried to tell others Piazza could have a concussion and he should be taken to a hospital, but he said his concerns were ignored.

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