US & Canada

Timothy Piazza: Penn State victim's parents settle with Beta Theta Pi

Timothy Piazza is seen in this undated photo. Image copyright ABC
Image caption Fraternity members waited 12 hours before calling police to help Timothy Piazza (centre)

The parents of a student who died in a hazing incident at a US university last year have reached a settlement with the college social club responsible.

Timothy Piazza, 19, died that February after suffering injuries at a "pledge" event for a fraternity at Pennsylvania State University.

The amount of the settlement will remain private, US media say. The fraternity has also agreed to reforms.

The family can still continue with suits against individual defendants.

Jim and Evelyn Piazza's settlement with the Beta Theta Pi fraternity's national organisation mandates that all chapters be alcohol- and substance-free by August 2020, ABC News reports.

It is part of a 17-point conduct reform programme "aimed at averting another preventable death".

Any decisions about the now-closed chapter house at Penn State will also need Mr and Mrs Piazza's approval.

A resolution banning hard alcohol at any chapter events, nationwide, was approved by 66 fraternities following outrage over alcohol-related student deaths.

The policy will be adopted by 1 September of next year in 6,100 chapters on 800 campuses.

Beta Theta Pi chairman S Wayne Kay said in a statement that Timothy's death remained "one of the greatest disappointments and darkest hours in Beta's history".

Fraternity member Ryan Burke, 21, pleaded guilty to hazing and unlawful acts in June. He was sentenced to three months of house arrest, 100 hours of community service and thousands of dollars in fines.

Twenty-five defendants still face charges over Timothy's death.

Last month, a Pennsylvania judge tossed out the most serious charges - involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment - after prosecutors refiled them.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionTim Piazza death: People 'have to see the damage' of hazing

What happened?

Timothy Piazza, a second-year engineer student from Lebanon, New Jersey, attended an initiation ritual at the fraternity house on 2 February.

Throughout the evening, Timothy and other students participated in binge-drinking activities before he fell down a flight of stairs.

In a group text message just before midnight, one of the fraternity members wrote: "Also, Tim Piazza might actually be a problem. He fell 15 feet down a flight of stairs, hair-first, going to need help."

After the fall he was slapped in the face, shaken and thrown on to a couch, where he remained for most of the night, according to a grand jury report.

In the early hours of 3 February, members of the fraternity carried him to another couch after finding him on a basement floor with blood on his face, the report said.

Nearly 12 hours later, a fraternity member called an ambulance.

Timothy died the next day of traumatic brain injury.

More on this story