Alcohol, hazing might have played role in frat pledge’s death, police say

State College police, in a release, said that alcohol and fraternity hazing may have played roles in Timothy Piazza’s death.

The sophomore was one of 14 Beta Theta Pi pledges present for a Thursday bid acceptance ceremony at the fraternity. His death was ruled accidental, according to Dauphin County Coroner Graham Hetrick.

The Centre Daily Times requested the coroner’s report, but has not yet received a copy.

Hetrick said that Piazza’s death stemmed from injuries he suffered in a fall down the basement stairs of the fraternity house on the university’s campus.

The fall occurred at about 11 p.m. Feb. 2, according to police, and Piazza’s condition was not reported to authorities until 10:49 a.m. Feb. 3. Piazza was unconscious and unresponsive when police arrived. He was first taken to Mount Nittany Medical Center, then flown to the Penn State Hershey Medical Center and pronounced dead Feb. 4 in Dauphin County.

Penn State and Beta Theta Pi’s general fraternity temporarily suspended the fraternity’s operations for the duration of the police investigation. The university also suspended all fraternity social events that involve alcohol until new policies and procedures are implemented.

The Penn State Interfraternity Council also canceled its Feb. 16 community dinner, calling it inappropriate “in light of recent events.”

The Centre County District Attorney’s Office, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Enforcement Agency and the university Office of Student Conduct are contributing to the State College police investigation.

Police have asked that anyone with information about Piazza’s death call 234-7150, email or submit an anonymous tip.