A day after the death of a California State University student was blamed on fraternity hazing by his family, the CSUN chapter of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity he was involved with was suspended.
Armando Villa, 19, was hiking in the Angeles National Forest with three members and five associate members of the fraternity when he collapsed and lost consciousness, according to Pi Kappa Phi and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Villa was taken to a local hospital where he was later pronounced dead, a Sheriff’s Department news release stated.
The group had apparently run out of water, and his death was possibly the result of heat stroke, according to the department.
Villa’s aunt, Maria Castenayda, said the teenager was pledging the CSUN chapter of Pi Kappa Phi, and that he and his friends were left on the trail without shoes or water and had to find their way out.
She blamed her nephew’s death on hazing.
“No one should have to die because they want to join your group,” Castenayda said. “They want to join, let them in.”
She added that Villa had been contemplating leaving the fraternity.
The national fraternity announced on Thursday that it had interimly suspended the CSUN chapter
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the student. Our deepest sympathy is with them during this time of loss,” Pi Kappa Phi Chief Executive Officer Mark E. Timmes said, according to the statement.
The fraternity also confirmed in the statement that Villa was an associate member, and that the hiking trip had been a new member activity.
Pi Kappa Phi said it was investigating the hazing allegation.
“Hazing has no place in our fraternity,” Timmes said. “Should the student chapter or individual members be found in violation of Pi Kappa Phi’s standards of conduct through our discipline process, they will be held accountable by the national fraternity.”
The chapter had already been ordered by CSUN officials to “cease and desist all activities pending the outcome of the investigation.”
The fraternity was cooperating with the university’s investigation, according to the Pi Kappa Phi statement.
Castenayda said she was hoping someone would provide answers to the family, but said that so far, no one had stepped forward.
Villa had just finished his first year at the university, and was getting ready to start to start classes again next month.
A Go Fund Me account had been set up for Armando Villa’s parents to help cover his funeral costs.
KTLA’s Kennedy Ryan and Kacey Montoya contributed to this report.