The ex-president of a now shut down fraternity house in California will not be criminally charged relating to the death of a student during an initiation ritual. The deceased California State University student, Armando Villa, passed away during a difficult mountain hike that fraternity members were forced to endure last July.
According to the district attorney for Los Angeles County, authorities did not have enough evidence to charge the fraternity president with involuntary manslaughter or hazing. However, the fraternity was found to be engaged in hazing in the past.
Died on a Hike in the Angeles National Forest
The 19-year-old young man died while in the process of joining the fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi, as a "pledge," which meant that he was forced to carry out different tasks as a part of the process, including the grueling hike in the Angeles National Forest. During the hike, participants ran out of water, likely as a result of poor planning, not because the fraternity purposefully denied them sufficient hydration.
According to prosecutors, the young man ended up running ahead of the group, but did not inform the fraternity president or anyone else on the hike where he was going. Later the group of hikers found the young man in a culvert, face down. Prosecutors decided that the young man had not been denied basic needs like appropriate clothing, water or sleep. As such, no criminal charges could be filed in the matter.
The young man's death is not the only one to happen in connection with fraternity initiation or "hazing" rites. Numerous hazing-related fatalities have happened throughout the United States over the years -- primarily as a result of forced alcohol consumption and physical and psychological abuse.
Teen's Family Is Pursuing Wrongful Death Claims
Earlier this month, the man's family initiated a wrongful death lawsuit against California State University, the fraternity and the fraternity's ex-president relating to their son's death. They are seeking damages relating to the wrongful death of their son, and they may have a viable claim to pursue a financial recovery relating to the tragedy.
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