The Baruch College freshman who died from a head injury sustained during a hazing ritual was not brought to the hospital for at least two hours after he was rendered unconscious last weekend, according to police. Chun Hsien (Michael) Deng died last Monday during a trip to the Poconos with members of the Pi Delta Psi fraternity; investigators say he was fatally injured during a game called "Glass Ceiling."
During the game, Heng, 19, wore a blindfold and carried a 20-pound backpack filled with sand as he tried to make his way toward a fraternity member who called to him and other members pushed and shoved him. Police believe Heng fell over backwards and sustained the head injury.
According to a police affidavit obtained by NBC New York, "three students who first brought Deng to the hospital initially told police that the group was wrestling in the snow when the 19-year-old fell backwards and hit his head. The group said they brought him inside and laid him by the fire, but he did not wake up." Police say the fraternity members then spent hours Googling Deng's symptoms while disposing of fraternity items.
An autopsy revealed that Deng had no alcohol or drugs in his system. According to the affidavit, when he was finally delivered unconscious to the hospital, he had "scratches on his left hip and buttocks, a cut on his left wrist and bruising on his knees, a police affidavit said. He also had massive head trauma and was placed on life support."
Monroe County District Attorney E. David Christine has said that criminal charges are likely. Approximately 30 members of the fraternity were believed to be at the house, though some left before police arrived, and it's still unclear who caused Deng to fall backwards during the ritual.
The Pi Delta Psi fraternity, which describes itself as an "Asian-American Cultural Fraternity," has cut ties with the Baruch College chapter, and issued a statement saying "this incident occurred at an unsanctioned event that was strictly prohibited by our organization. As a result of this incident, we are immediately suspending all new member education nationwide until further notice."
And Baruch College has issued this new statement regarding Deng's death:
Baruch College continues to cooperate fully with law enforcement’s investigation of the tragic death of freshman student Chun Hsien (Michael) Deng. Michael died over the weekend while participating in an unsanctioned Pi Delta Psi fraternity pledging event in the Poconos, PA. Baruch had no knowledge of this event or that the fraternity was rushing a pledge class. Pi Delta Psi did not request permission nor were they approved by Baruch on this matter. Details of the circumstances regarding Michael’s death have been emerging slowly to the College and law enforcement.
As part of our internal review and student judicial process that is running alongside the criminal investigation, Baruch College has immediately suspended the campus rights and privileges of the fraternity. Disciplinary actions against individual students will be determined after the review. Baruch College has a very clear anti-hazing policy under which all student organizations operate. Fraternities and sororities on Baruch’s campus are required to attend the College’s orientation and training session that includes anti-hazing training and literature. All attendees are required to sign statements that they understand and will abide by the College’s policies regarding organizing a pledge class and anti-hazing protocols.
College officials are meeting individually with the officers of other fraternities and sororities on Baruch’s campus to remind them of their obligations to ensure the safety and well-being of their members as well as the College’s policies. We are also making available the Baruch College Counseling Center to support all our students.
We continue to send our deepest sympathies to Michael’s family and his friends. The students, faculty and staff of Baruch College are saddened by the tragic loss of a promising young member of our community.