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Criminal Charges Expected in Baruch Student's Death, Reports Say

By Aidan Gardiner | December 13, 2013 11:32am
 Michael Deng died after he was tackled while blindfolded and carrying a bag of sand, reports said.
Michael Deng died after he was tackled while blindfolded and carrying a bag of sand, reports said.
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Facebook/Pi Delta Psi Fraternity, Inc. and Bronx High School for Science

MANHATTAN — Prosecutors expect to charge peers of a Baruch college student who died after a hazing ritual in which he lugged a backpack full of sand while fraternity members tackled him, according to reports.

Chun Hsien Deng, a 19-year-old who also went by Michael, was participating in the ritual game Sunday in order to become a member of Baruch's Pi Delta Psi chapter, which rented a home in the Poconos for the initiation, according to the New York Times.

“Police are going through the ‘connect-the-dots’ phases of the investigation,” District Attorney David Christine told the New York Post. “There will be criminal charges as well.”

Deng, an alum of Bronx High School of Science who lived in Oakland Gardens in Queens, was one of four pledges who accompanied the roughly 30 fraternity members to the Poconos house on Friday night for a weekend getaway, the newspapers reported.

About 5 a.m. Sunday morning, the pledges were blindfolded and strapped with a backpack full of sand. They had to try to dodge tacklers while making their way across the yard, the Times reported.

While other pledges cleared the brutal game, Deng was knocked unconscious, the newspaper reported.

In the hour before other members of the fraternity finally took Deng to a Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center, they changed his clothes, Googled his symptoms and looked up nearby hospitals — but never called 911, the Times said.

They arrived at the hospital at 6:42 a.m. and Deng died Monday after suffering severe head trauma, the papers reported.

Both Baruch college and the fraternity’s national organization said that the weekend getaway was unsanctioned and suspended the chapter.

"We extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Michael, and request privacy during this period. Michael will be greatly missed," the fraternity's national leadership said in a statement.

As authorities investigated Deng’s death, Baruch launched its own internal review, a spokeswoman for the college said.

“If someone is literally beaten to death, there has to be culpability,” District Attorney Christine told the Times.