Sheriff’s detectives were investigating the death of a Cal State Northridge student whose family claimed died as the result of a fraternity hazing prank, authorities said Wednesday.
Armando Villa, 19, went hiking Tuesday with friends in the Angeles National Forest near Big Tujunga Canyon Road.
At some point, the group apparently ran out of water and Villa collapsed on the trail, according to a news release from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
The hikers were able to flag down a forest ranger around 5 p.m. and Villa was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead, the release stated.
Villa’s aunt said the teenager was pledging Pi Kappa Phi and that Tuesday’s hike was just the latest in a series of fraternity activities.
“He was actually contemplating getting out of it, but he promised he would go to this last event,” aunt Maria Castenayda said.
But Villa never made it home from the last event and Castenayda blamed his death on hazing.
“He was found with no shoes,” Castenayda said. “His feet were blistered.”
“The boys were left out there without shoes and water to kind of find their way out,” she said.
Nick Marquez called his cousin the “light of the family” and said he was always smiling, always happy.
“It feels like a nightmare,” said Marquez. “I just want him to … come through the door. I’m never going to get to hug him again.”
Villa had just completed his first year at the university and was set to return to school this fall.
School officials learned of Villa’s death late Tuesday, according to Carmen Chandler, Dir. of Media Relations at CSUN.
The school was cooperating with the sheriff’s department and campus police, Chandler said.
CSUN officials also ordered Pi Kappa Phi fraternity to “cease and desist all activities pending the outcome of the investigation.”
Family members hoped other students who were with Villa will come forward so they will know what really happened.
“You didn’t just break him, you killed him and you broke a family,” Castenada said.