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CSUN Fraternity Pledge Dies During Hazing Ritual In Forest

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A CSUN student died this week after collapsing in the Angeles National Forest during a hazing ritual for a fraternity.

Armando Villa, 19, lost consciousness on a trail not far from Big Tujunga Canyon Road Tuesday evening while he was on a camping trip with the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity. The group of pledges he was with ran out of water, and he collapsed. The other members flagged down a forest ranger, and he was rushed to a hospital at 5:07 p.m, according to the Daily Sundial. He was pronounced dead at the hospital. Sheriff's detectives say he likely died of heat stroke or heat exhaustion.

The doctor told his family that Villa was found shoeless, and his feet were blistered and cut. The other boys on the trip told the family that they were supposed to find their way out of the forest without their cell phones or enough water. His family blames the fraternity for leaving him to die in the forest.

Villa's aunt Marie Castaneda told NBC, "The men in charge of this fraternity, you know, the ones that left them there, we want [punishment] for these guys cause they, they murdered our child. They killed him. They left him there to die."

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Villa had just finished up his first year at CSUN, and he wanted to join the fraternity so that he could make friends. But he didn't enjoy the pledging process. Villa had made a note in his phone that if the fraternity accepted him, he would work to stop hazing in the future and forcing underage pledges to drink. He told his cousins that he was forced to sit in the hot sand on the beach until the skin started peeling right off him. Villa's cousin, Efrain Lopez told NBC, "[T]hat’s when Armando was like, 'I don’t want to do this anymore.'"

He contemplated quitting, but Tuesday was supposed to be the final pledge challenge and he felt an obligation to go since he had already committed.

CSUN has suspended all activities for Pi Kappa Phi. The fraternity's Chief Executive Officer Mark E. Timmes released a statement saying that right now their primary concern was supporting the group and Villa's family: "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the student. We appreciate the support from the Division of Student Affairs and the entire CSUN community during this difficult time."

Villa's family is demanding answers about exactly what happened as they mourn him. Family members called him the "light" of their family, and his mother spent yesterday crying on her son's bed. His cousin Nick Marquez told KTLA, "It feels like a nightmare. I just want him to … come through the door. I’m never going to get to hug him again."