Ryan Burke, a Penn State fraternity member has pleaded guilty in the hazing death of student Timothy Piazza. Piazza died last year after he fell down a flight of stairs after excessive drinking at a fraternity rushing event. A 911 call was not made until twelve hours after several of the fraternity members tried to wake up the unconscious pledge. Piazza died two days later, he had sustained multiple traumatic injuries from the fall.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro recounted that the pledges had to run a “gauntlet of drinking games and an obstacle course while several of the fraternity brothers served and poured drinks onto the pledges as they ran through the course.” Burke walked around and made underage fraternity pledges including Timonty Piazza drink from a vodka bottle.
Besides Ryan Burke, 25 other former Beta fraternity brothers have been charged for conspiracy to commit hazing and unlawful acts related to minors. The ex-Beta members have denied all the charges.
Ryan Burke’s attorney Phillip Masorti said that the ex-frat member decided to “step forward at his earliest opportunity to acknowledge and accept his responsibility.” Burke has pleaded guilty to four counts of hazing and five counts relating to unlawful acts involving liquor.
Piazza’s death and the death of many other students around the United States who have passed as a result of fraternity hazing have thrown a spotlight to the dangers of fraternity pledging, practices and the alcohol abuse and hazing occurring.
Recently Dateline aired an episode called “The College Fraternity Crisis” where it sat down with 15 parents whose children had died in fraternity hazing. One mother recalled taking her child to college only to have to come back two weeks later to pack up his things after he had died from alcohol poisoning during a fraternity pledging week, which usually happens at the beginning of the semester. Another parent recalled that their child could have been saved had the fraternity members at the time called 911 right away.
For now, the family of Timothy Piazza is happy knowing that some justice has been served in the tragic death of their son. “We are pleased to see one individual take responsibility and encourage others to follow in his steps,” Tom Kline said, the family attorney for the Piazzas.