On December 9, 2013, Chun Hsien Deng entered the woods in the Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania with fraternity brothers from Pi Delta Psi at Baruch College in Manhattan. He didn’t return alive.
That afternoon, the 19-year-old died during a hazing ritual called “the Glass Ceiling.” Our own Andy Moore reported on this extensively after it happened in late 2013. During the investigation, we were horrified when we learned that the brothers choose to Google about head injury symptoms rather than calling an ambulance while Deng was unconscious.
Here’s a summary of what happened to Deng, via The New York Times:
The authorities said Mr. Deng, 19, known as Michael, died on Dec. 9, 2013, after he was blindfolded and made to wear a backpack weighted with sand while trying to make his way across a frozen yard as members of the fraternity, Pi Delta Psi, tried to tackle him. During at least one tackle, he was lifted up and dropped on the ground in a move known as spearing, according to the Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department. He complained his head hurt but continued participating and was eventually knocked out, the police said in a news release.
After Mr. Deng was knocked unconscious, and the authorities said the fraternity members delayed in seeking medical help.
Mr. Deng was one of four pledges who joined members of Pi Delta Psi on an annual weekend retreat at a rental house in the Poconos, where he took part in a ritual called the Glass Ceiling.
After he was seriously injured and unconscious, fraternity members carried him inside the house, where they contacted a national fraternity official, who told them to hide fraternity items, the police said. Some members left the house, while others changed his clothes and conducted searches to diagnose his symptoms.
At some point, it was reported that Mr. Deng was having trouble breathing, the police said. Three fraternity members put him in a car and drove him to a hospital a half-hour away. By the time he arrived, he was unable to be revived. He died the next morning of severe trauma to the head, officials said.
A police statement painted the horrifying extent of his injuries a little more vividly:
“Deng was subjected to repeated blunt force trauma which was applied to three different organ systems of the body to include the head, torso and thighs.”
Yesterday, a grand jury in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, a grand jury submitted it’s recommendation to prosecutors: five fraternity members of Pi Delta Psi at Baurch will face third-degree murder charges, along with the fraternity itself. It carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. According to the New York Times, “a total of 37 would face a range of criminal charges, including assault, hindering apprehension and hazing in Chun Hsien Deng’s death.”
In a statement, Deng’s family offers their support for the charges in the wake of their son’s death:
“Too many families have been devastated as a result of fraternity hazing, with at least one student dying every year from hazing since 1970,” said the attorney, Douglas Fierberg.
“Fraternities and their members must be held accountable, and this step by authorities is an important one,” he said. “Michael was a wonderful, beloved young man, and, in his honor, the family will also continue pursuing its wrongful death case against the fraternity to cause it and other fraternities to change so that other parents will be spared the loss of a precious child.”
Nice to see Deng get the justice his deserves in a case like this. It will be interesting to see how it plays out in court.