NEW YORK — Five fraternity brothers have been charged with criminal counts ranging from hindering apprehension to providing false statements to law enforcement in connection with the 2013 hazing death of a New York City college student, police said Tuesday.
Baruch College freshman Chun “Michael” Deng, 19, died two years ago from “complications of traumatic brain injury” during a hazing incident, according to court documents. Police said he suffered injures during a fraternity ritual on a trip to the Poconos in Pennsylvania.
The first round of charges include hindering apprehension, concealing or destroying evidence, hazing and providing false information to law enforcement, according to court documents.
Charges are pending against others, officials said.
The Monroe County, Pennsylvania, grand jury recommended various charges for a total of 37 people in connection with the death — including charges of third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter against five other frat members, as well as the Pi Delta Psi fraternity, according to court documents.
“We are going to be doing the charging in phases… starting with the people that we believe are the least involved and working our way up to the most serious charges involved,” Pocono Mountain Regional Police Chief Christopher Wagner told reporters Tuesday.
Deng’s parents “applaud the actions by the police, grand jury and Monroe County District Attorneys to bring criminal charges against the Pi Delta Psi Fraternity and its members for the tragic, entirely preventable hazing death of Michael,” said a statement from Douglas Fierberg, the family’s attorney.
A forensic pathologist found that Deng’s death resulted from multiple traumatic injuries and delayed medical care, according to police.
“Deng suffered multiple blows and impacts to his body … sustaining a significant head injury,” police said.
The Pi Delta Psi fraternity was conducting a ritual outdoors for new pledges called the “glass ceiling,” according to police.
The objective was for Deng, who was blindfolded and wearing a backpack containing a 30-pound bag of sand, to navigate toward someone who was calling him while other fraternity brothers physically prevented that from happening, said police.
Deng fell backward, struck his head and was unconscious and unresponsive immediately after he fell, according to police.
Other members of the fraternity told authorities they saw Deng get pushed but did not see who did it because it was dark in the yard of the residence where the ritual took place, said a probable cause affidavit obtained by CNN in 2013.
Deng was carried inside and placed by a fire because his body was cold and wet from the conditions outside, police said. Deng remained unconscious while members of the fraternity researched his symptoms online and found the closest hospital, according to the affidavit.
During the time Deng was unconscious, “contact was made with the national fraternity president, Andy Meng,” who encouraged the group to hide all fraternity materials, police said on Monday.
“A minimum of at least two hours went by before he actually received any type of medical care,” Pocono Mountain Regional Police Chief Harry Lewis said after the incident.
Forensic analysis determined the delay in treatment “significantly contributed to the death of Mr. Deng” and resulted in neurogenic shock, according to police.
Three fraternity members drove Deng to a Pennsylvania hospital early in the morning, authorities said.
“The transport was done in a private vehicle … which means this poor victim wasn’t receiving any medical attention until the time he actually made it to the hospital,” Monroe County District Attorney E. David Christine said after Deng’s death.
He was unresponsive and in critical condition upon his arrival at the hospital. Physicians determined Deng had suffered major brain trauma, according to the district attorney’s office.
Authorities said the Pi Delta Psi members had traveled to a residence in the Pocono Mountains, roughly 90 miles away from New York, for the weekend.
After the incident, Pi Delta Psi Fraternity Inc. said it had “revoked and terminated all affiliation with the Baruch Colony, effective immediately.”
“Baruch Colony has violated the values and rules of our organization,” the statement said. “We will also revoke the individual membership of any member found involved in this incident.”
Baruch College said Deng died while participating in an unsanctioned fraternity pledging event.