Parents of pledge who died at Penn State break their silence

Posted: Updated:
Lebanon Township resident Timothy Piazza died Feb. 4 after falling down a flight of stairs at a Penn State University fraternity house a few days earlier. Lebanon Township resident Timothy Piazza died Feb. 4 after falling down a flight of stairs at a Penn State University fraternity house a few days earlier.
EDISON -

Family members of a New Jersey teen who died after falling down steps at a Pennsylvania State University fraternity house are breaking their silence following the filing of charges against the frat and some of its members.

Lebanon Township resident Timothy Piazza, 19, participated in a pledge acceptance ceremony on Feb. 2 at the Beta Theta Pi frat house. Officials said he was intoxicated when he fell down the basement steps.

Paramedics weren't called until about 12 hours later, according to officials. Piazza died at a hospital Feb. 4.

“They fed him lethal doses of alcohol, and they killed him. And then they treated him like road kill, like a rag doll. They slapped him around. They threw water on them,” Jim Piazza, Timothy Piazza’s father, said.

A grand jury found that Timothy Piazza was put through a hazing ritual at the frat house called “The Gauntlet,” in which he was forced to drink dangerous amounts of alcohol in a short amount of time.

Prosecutors said surveillance video shows Timothy Piazza unable to stand and repeatedly falling. They said he first fell down 15 feet of stairs, and then hit his head on a stone floor, an iron railing and a door before falling down the steps again.

Authorities said fraternity members waited 12 hours before calling 911 and then they tried to cover up what happened.

"When I walked into the room, it looked like he got hit by a car. It was bad. Um, but I got to see him. I got to say goodbye,” Timothy Piazza’s brother, Mike Piazza, said.

Timothy Piazza’s father said he feels like his son was murdered.

“In my mind, it was murder. They let him suffer for 12 hours. They let him die a very slow death. It's not any way that anybody should ever be treated,” Jim Piazza said. “This wasn't boys being boys. This was criminal activity.”

Penn State University President Eric Barron has called the incident “incomprehensible,” saying the school’s misconduct policy is vigorous.

“Universities need to take a tougher stand, and don't give me, 'It's private property.' You hold the ultimate pen, which is the pen of expulsion,” Jim Piazza said.

Beta Theta Pi, where Timothy Piazza was pledging, was supposed to be a dry fraternity, a result of a suspicion eight years ago.

“Tim Piazza is not just our son. He really represents every son and daughter of every family that is looking to go to college and potentially participate in Greek life in the future. We need to make these changes for them,” Jim Piazza said.

Jim Piazza added that no one from Penn State or the fraternity came to his son's wake or the funeral.

Eighteen fraternity brothers have been charged in connection with Timothy Piazza’s death. Eight of them face involuntary manslaughter charges.

Penn State has also put a graduation hold on the students who are facing charges.

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