Charges expected in New York fraternity 'ritual' death, prosecutor says
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Charges are expected in the death of a New York City college student who was injured during a fraternity ritual on a trip to Pennsylvania, a prosecutor said Thursday.
Monroe County District Attorney E. David Christine told CNN that criminal charges were likely in connection with the death of Baruch College freshman Chun "Michael" Deng, 19, who died Monday during a fraternity weekend trip to the Poconos.
The level of charges and who specifically will be charged is not clear, Christine said.
The Pi Delta Psi fraternity was conducting a ritual outdoors for new pledges called the "glass ceiling," according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by CNN.
The objective was for Deng, who was blindfolded and wearing a backpack filled with a 20-pound bag of sand, to navigate toward someone who was calling for him "while other fraternity brothers physically prevent that from happening," witnesses said, according to the affidavit.
Deng fell backward, struck his head and was unconscious and unresponsive immediately after he fell, the document states.
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, the affidavit said.
Deng was then carried inside and placed by a fire because his body was cold and wet from the conditions outside. Deng remained unconscious while members of the fraternity researched his symptoms online and found the closest hospital, according to the affidavit.
"A minimum of at least two hours went by before he actually received any type of medical care," said Pocono Mountain Regional Police Chief Harry Lewis.
Three fraternity members drove Deng to a Pennsylvania hospital early Sunday 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," Christine said.
He was unresponsive and in critical condition upon his arrival at the hospital. Physicians determined Deng had suffered major brain trauma, and he was put on life support, according to the district attorney's office.
The affidavit states that physicians discovered a set of fresh scratches and some bruising on Deng's knees. His skull was not fractured, and he had little swelling to the back of his head. Doctors also noted that the toxicology and alcohol tests were negative.
Physicians later determined Deng was brain dead and required a breathing machine to be kept alive.
Authorities said more than 30 members of fraternity Pi Delta Psi had traveled to a residence in the Pocono Mountains, roughly 90 miles away from New York City, for the weekend.
Some fraternity members left the residence before police arrived, Lewis said. Police are "looking for them and hoping they will come forward with any information."
In a statement Thursday, Pi Delta Psi Fraternity Inc. said it was "immediately suspending all new member education nationwide until further notice."
The fraternity will also conduct a full investigation into Deng's death, the statement said.
In a statement, Baruch College said Wednesday that Deng died while participating in an unsanctioned fraternity pledging event.
Baruch College has a "zero tolerance policy regarding hazing," according to the statement.
Deng's death is a "deeply painful reminder that no individual should ever be put into a position where his or her personal safety is in jeopardy," the statement said.
Along with its own internal review, Baruch is cooperating with law enforcement, the statement said.
CNN's Allie Malloy, Christina Romano and Tiffany Campbell contributed to this report.