Police: Partying NJ college student might have survived had 911 been called sooner
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Penn State has suspended the social events of all fraternities until further notice following the death of New Jersey student Timothy Piazza inside a fraternity house last week.
Police, meanwhile, tell New Jersey 101.5 that Piazza's life could have been saved if people at the party had not waited at least 12 hours to call 911.
Piazza's death after a fall down a flight of stairs of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity combined with "growing allegations of misconduct in these organizations, including hazing and sexual assault," prompted the action, according to a statement from spokeswoman Lisa Powers.
“This suspension will continue while the University, the IFC and its chapters, relevant alumni and national fraternity organizations, the Panhellenic Council, and the Borough of State College determine significant changes in social policies and practices for these groups," according to Powers.
The Dauphin County coroner ruled that the 19-year-old suffered multiple traumatic injuries in the fall on Thursday night. Police were not notified until Friday morning nearly 12 hours later.
Damon Sims, Penn State's vice president for Student Affairs, met this week with the presidents of the university's fraternity chapters to discuss the need for meaningful change in their organizations. Powers said the fraternities are private organizations that function on private property.
"They are neither owned, nor operated by Penn State, and their success and sustainability require collective and positive action by undergraduate actives, alumni, national chapters, the University and the borough," Powers explained.
Meanwhile, State College Police Lt. Kevin Robb told New Jersey 101.5 the investigation continues into why police were not called immediately.
I truly believe if they would have called immediately the chances would be significantly great that he would be alive today.[/blockquotes]
"We're following the evidence. We're investigating. We'll see where the facts and circumstances lead us and once we're completed our investigation that will be present it to the district attorney's office who will review it and and we'll make a decision on what type of criminal liability anyone would face."
“I truly believe if they would have called immediately the chances would be significantly great that he would be alive today and I just don’t understand, whether they were fearful ... because (Piazza) was underage and drinking or if they were violating some sort of fraternity rule. I don’t know why they didn’t call," Robb said.
"We can't find this person back but we can learn from the mistake. The message is if you have someone like this and you know they're injured. call for help.The police departments would give you some credit for saving a person's life. I'm not worried about a minor violation such as underage drinking if it means saving someone's life," Robb said, adding that he wants to help get answers for the family.
Piazza, a sophomore from Readington who was an engineering major at Penn State, was a 2015 graduate of Hunterdon Central High School. His funeral is scheduled for Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Whitehouse Station. His wake is scheduled for Friday at the church from 4 to 8 p.m.
A vigil is planned for Sunday night on the Penn State campus.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.
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