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"Hazing" death of NYC college student ruled homicide

NEW YORK - The death of Chun “Michael” Deng, a Baruch College student who died during a hazing ritual in December 2013, has officially been ruled a homicide.

CBS News has learned the Luzerne County Coroner’s Office in eastern Pennsylvania determined Deng died of closed head trauma.  

The 19-year-old freshman and pledge at Pi Delta Psi died Dec. 9 while at a weekend retreat at a rented house in the Pocono Mountains with about three dozen fraternity members from the New York City college.

According to a police affidavit, Deng, one of four pledges, suffered major brain trauma Dec. 8 during an initiation ritual called the “glass ceiling,” reported CBS New York.

Police said Deng was blindfolded and wearing a backpack loaded with 20 pounds of sand when he was forced to run a gauntlet while fraternity brothers physically tried to keep him from passing through by repeatedly shoving him to the ground.

Deng was left “unconscious and unresponsive immediately after he fell” with “scratches and bruising on his knees,” according to the affidavit. Investigators reportedly said Deng also had swelling to the back of his head.

Instead of calling 911, police said the frat brothers carried Deng inside and placed him by the fire, searched the Internet for his symptoms and changed his clothes, CBS New York reported.

Then, after waiting at least an hour and a half, three of the brothers drove him to a hospital 30 miles away, authorities said. There, Deng’s mother arrived to find her son brain-dead and on life support. He was pronounced dead hours later, according to the station.

Police said one of the brothers made a phone call from the hospital directing others back at the house to get rid of all fraternity items and another admitted to being the “pledge educator” in charge of Deng during the ritual, according to the station.

Toxicology and alcohol tests for Deng reportedly came back negative. It’s unclear whether any other members of the fraternity were tested for drugs or alcohol at the time.

Baruch College administrators said the school had no knowledge of the weekend retreat or even that Pi Delta Psi was rushing a pledge class.

Nationally, Pi Delta Psi has had hazing problems in recent years, CBS New York reported. In 2012, the University of Florida chapter was suspended because of hazing and in spring 2009, the Cornell University chapter was put on provisional status after videotape surfaced of a pledge being hazed.

Following Deng’s death, the fraternity disowned its Baruch College chapter.

Authorities said in December they will prosecute anyone who was involved in Deng’s death but no charges have been filed as of yet.

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