In February, 19 year-old Beta Theta Pi fraternity pledge Timothy Piazza was admitted to Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Penn., with a collapsed lung, ruptured spleen and “non-recoverable” traumatic brain injury. He sustained those injuries falling down a flight of stairs at the fraternity’s house at Penn State University, in the Alpha Upsilon chapter house.
His would-be fraternity brothers watched him fall but failed to call an ambulance for 12 hours, allegedly moving him to an upstairs room and continuing the party.
Now, parents James and Evelyn Piazza are suing, and a grand jury is looking into whether the fraternity could be held criminally liable for Piazza’s death.
Penn State University has permanently banned the fraternity from the campus, citing Piazza’s death as the latest in “a persistent pattern of serious alcohol abuse, hazing and the use and sale of illicit drugs.”
According to his parents and the suit, just before Piazza went to the party, he texted his girlfriend “They’re going to get me f***ed up.”
His parents, of Lebanon, N.J., have retained Tom Kline, a Philadelphia attorney who represented an unnamed victim of the Jerry Sandusky case against Penn State and helped win a massive settlement in that suit.
“This is going to be the next Penn State tragedy, this whole frat system and their lack of policing it,” said Kline. “There’s every indication that this was a brutal horrible, hazing incident.”
In a statement released by Centre County District Attorney’s Office, District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller announced her office’s ongoing involvement in the case and pledged to get to the bottom of Piazza’s death. “Rest assured that we will discover what truly transpired to Timothy Piazza behind the doors of Beta Theta Pi that evening,” she wrote in the statement reported by Penn State’s The Collegian.