In February, Penn State sophomore Timothy Piazza died after falling down stairs while taking part in a hazing ritual for fraternity pledges. After an investigation by the Centre Country district attorney, the Beta Theta Pi fraternity and 18 of its members will face charges in Piazza’s death, including eight charges of involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault.
According to the investigation, Piazza was attending and drinking at a bid-acceptance ceremony when he fell down a set of stairs. Piazza was placed on a couch, and an ambulance was not called until 12 hours later. He died two days later in a hospital of spleen and brain-stem damage. As a result, Penn State cracked down on Greek life, announced new rules aimed at ending hazing and cutting down on drinking, and even shut down the school’s Beta Theta Pi chapter.
The other charges fraternity members face include hazing, furnishing alcohol to minors, tampering with evidence. The fraternity itself faces 147 charges as well. According to members of the fraternity, help wasn’t called for Piazza until he didn’t wake up the next morning because his condition did not seem dangerous even though he had fallen multiple times and struck his head. Security footage from the house was used during the investigation, which appears to contradict the defense’s claims.
Appearing at a press conference with Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller, Piazza’s father James said his son’s death was “a senseless and very preventable tragedy” that “did not have to happen.”