Penn State Student from Ronkonkoma Charged in Hazing Death

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A Ronkonkoma man was among eight members of a Pennsylvania State University fraternity who were recently indicted for their roles in the February hazing death of a 19-year-old student, authorities said.

Daniel Casey, who is also 19, was charged with manslaughter, assault, tampering with evidence, providing alcohol to minors and other counts in the death of Timothy Piazza. The victim, who was going through the Beta Theta Pi initiation, died of a head injury when frat members allegedly hesitated to call 911 after he suffered a head injury repeatedly falling down a flight of stairs following a night of heavy drinking.

“He was in dire mental need of help,” Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller told reporters Friday during a news conference announcing the indictment. “These brothers gathered around Timothy, where some of them described that he looked dead, and they waited over 40 minutes before they called for help while some of them Googled things like, ‘what to do w a head injury.’”

Prosecutors said Casey was the pledge master who oversaw the initiation rituals for the frat for the past three semesters.

Casey was seen on surveillance video handing a bottle of vodka to the victim, who was from New Jersey, according to the indictment. After some members of the frat were ignored when they insisted that the victim needed medical care, Casey was seen on camera slapping the victim three times in the face in a failed attempt to revive him, the court documents say.

By the time the victim was taken to a hospital, it was too late, authorities said. The fraternity’s international chapter leaders issued a statement stating that the Penn State chapter was suspended after the death.

“Beta Theta Pi International Fraternity has clearly and consistently expressed its position that it does not tolerate hazing or alcohol abuse in any form by its members,” the statement read. “The former undergraduate members were well educated by the International Fraternity and Penn State on these policies; however, they are entitled to the presumption of innocence as they face these charges.”