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Cal State Northridge Confirms Student Died As Result Of Hazing

NORTHRIDGE (  —  Cal State Northridge on Friday released the results of an investigation into the death of a student caused by hazing.

KCAL9's Randy Paige was there when the university's president decried hazing and excoriated those involved.

Paige said the fact that Dianne Harrison also has a son about the age of Armando Villa, the 19-year-old man who died on a hike, only seemed to fuel her outrage.

"Hazing is senseless," Harrison said, seething. "It is dangerous. It is against the law. It will not be tolerated."

The LA County Sheriff's Department said Villa died on a hike in the Angeles National Forest on the evening of July 1.

The university said the sophomore was on a fraternity-sponsored hike. Villa's family and friends had long maintained that the hike was more a hazing ritual for the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity.

At some point, the group ran out of water and Villa lost consciousness on the trail, Paige reported.

His friends were ultimately able to track down a ranger, who summoned help and got Villa to a hospital.

Villa was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Harrison said she couldn't go into detail about what happened that day.

But she said, "They had water. But not enough water. The pledges wore really cheap, flimsy shoes. Some of them, including Armando's, were not the right size. And then you go on an 18-mile hike."

Villa's tearful aunt, Maria Castaneda, could barely speak.

"The only thoughts that go through my mind: what were his thoughts? What was he thinking [about]? He probably knew. 'I will never see my mom again. I may never see my sister, my dad, my cousins.' Was he scared? Did he need us? And we weren't there. ... What was he going through? How much did he suffer?"

Villa's mother and stepfather  issued a statement that read in part: "Hazing is an awful practice. It cost our son his life. And it ought to be banned across the country. No one else should suffer because of this barbaric ritual that endangers and ridicules others just for the enjoyment of immature young men."

Pi Kappa Phi, the fraternity involved, has forfeited its charter at the campus.

As for punishing individuals involved, the school said that would be up to the court system. A criminal investigation is continuing.

KCAL9's Erica Nochlin picked up the story Friday evening.

She spoke to students who acknowledged hazing happened at other fraternities, too.

"Whether people say it's a bad thing or not, it probably does happen," said freshman Carlos Mejia. His older brother was a fraternity member and he conceded his brother was likely hazed at some point.

Brandon Molina, also a freshman, said the idea of hazing has made him reconsider his plans to pledge a frat.

"I wouldn't want to go through the same thing as that guy had to go through. Pretty scary," Molina sais.

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