WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The death of a New York City college student in what authorities have called a fraternity ritual has been ruled a homicide, a Pennsylvania coroner said Friday.
The Luzerne County coroner's office referred all other inquiries about the Dec. 8 death of Baruch College freshman Chun "Michael" Deng to police.
Authorities allege that Deng sustained a fatal brain injury after participating in an initiation ritual in the winter snow with three other pledges at a home in Tunkhannock Township, Pa., about 100 miles west of New York City in the Pocono Mountains.
Blindfolded and wearing a backpack containing 20 pounds of sand, Deng's objective was to make it to a certain member without being tackled by other members of Pi Delta Psi, according to authorities. But Deng was shoved, apparently fell and struck his head, Pocono Mountain Regional Police wrote in an affidavit.
The affidavit alleged that instead of calling 911, fraternity members took Deng inside, changed his clothes and conducted Google searches about his symptoms before taking him to the closest hospital, where he died the next day. While they were at the hospital, one brother called back to the house to tell the members to dispose of "all fraternity memorabilia and items," the affidavit alleged.
Monroe County District Attorney David Christine has said he plans to file criminal charges.
About 30 fraternity members spent that weekend at a home where Deng was hurt. Police also said they recovered suspected marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms at the house.
Baruch representatives did not immediately respond to comment requests.