READINGTON — The father of Timothy Piazza is recalling the strange juxtaposition of a conversation he was having with a Rutgers University student about hazing on the very morning that, unbeknownst yet to him, his 19-year-old son lay dying on the basement floor of a Penn State University fraternity house.

"That young man was sent to me that morning to tell me my son was dying," James Piazza said in an interview with NJ Advance Media, published Monday on NJ.com. "I told him (after Timothy's death) 'I feel connected to you' ... He said, 'I wasn't sure I believed in God before, but I believe in Him now.'"

The elder Piazza had initially been giving the Rutgers student career advice on Feb. 3, when their conversation shifted to campus life, the NJ.com report said. The student, who had pledged a fraternity himself last fall, said the reputation of Greek life at Penn State was well-known even on other campuses, saying "they haze pretty hard" and that people died from the hazing, the report said.

Last month, 18 students were criminally charged in connection with Timothy's death, including eight accused of involuntary manslaughter. Authorities say Piazza was clearly in distress after a pledge event that involved heavy drinking, and at which he suffered multiple falls, but fraternity members did not get him help.

Patrick Lavery produces "New Jersey's First News" and is New Jersey 101.5's morning drive breaking news reporter. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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