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College student dies after fraternity 'ritual' in Pennsylvania

Dec. 11, 2013 at 9:45 PM   |   Comments

STROUDSBURG, Pa., Dec. 11 (UPI) -- A weekend fraternity "ritual" in Pennsylvania has left a college student from New York City dead of a major head injury, authorities say.

Pocono Mountain Regional Police and the Monroe County prosecutors' office are investigating the death of Chen "Michael" Deng, 19, a freshman at Baruch College in Manhattan, during a retreat in Tunkhannock Township, the Pocono Record reported Wednesday.

Police learned Sunday morning Deng had been brought to the Geisinger Wyoming Valley Hospital by his friends and was unresponsive and in critical condition with major brain trauma. He died Monday, the newspaper said.

Investigators determined Deng was injured at a residence in Tunkhannock Township where more than 30 members of the Pi Delta Psi fraternity from New York City had spent the weekend. Deng, one of four pledges to the fraternity, was hurt "while partaking in a ritual in the yard of the residence," the Monroe County district attorney's office said in a statement.

Fraternity members first took him inside the home and sometime later drove him to the emergency room in Wilkes-Barre, the Record said.

Monroe County prosecutor E. David Christine Jr. told the New York Times Wednesday night Deng was fatally injured playing a game called the Glass Ceiling, in which one person, usually someone pledging a fraternity, is blindfolded before a heavy item is placed on his back.

"He has to navigate blind to someone who's called for him," Christine said. "It's played outside, and as he makes his way, other people are trying to tackle him to prevent him from reaching his goal."

Baruch College President Mitchel B. Wallerstein said the school, which is part of the City University of New York, "had no knowledge of this event or that the fraternity was rushing a pledge class."

"Pi Delta Psi did not request permission nor were they approved by Baruch on this matter," he said.

Baruch has suspended the fraternity's campus rights while conducting its own investigation, the Times said.

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