The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said the young man, identified by his family as Armando Villa, 19, collapsed from lack of water Tuesday in Angeles National Forest. Homicide detectives are investigating the death, classified at the moment as an accident.
Villa's cousin, Efrain Lopez, said the student was ordered to leave his cellphone in his car. Lopez said members of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity also took away the pledges' shoes and gave them very little water for their hike.
"They told them to find their way down the mountain," Lopez said.
Pi Kappa Phi's national organization said it is conducting its own investigation.
"Hazing has no place in our fraternity," Chief Executive Officer Mark E. Timmes said in a statement. "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."