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Charges expected in New York fraternity 'ritual' death, prosecutor says

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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Prosecutor says charges likely in the fraternity ritual death of a Baruch College student
  • Victim was among fraternity members who traveled to the Poconos from New York City
  • Student was injured participating in fraternity ritual called "The Glass Ceiling"

By Rande Iaboni

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Charges are expected in the death of a New York City college student who was injured during a fraternity ritual on a trip to Pennsylvania, a prosecutor said Thursday.

Monroe County District Attorney E. David Christine told CNN that criminal charges were likely in connection with the death of Baruch College freshman Chun "Michael" Deng, 19, who died Monday during a fraternity weekend trip to the Poconos.

The level of charges and who specifically will be charged is not clear, Christine said.

The fraternity ritual was a game called "The Glass Ceiling," according to Christine.

"It involves blindfolding a person and placing a heavy item on his back," he said. "He has to navigate to someone who is calling for him, and as he makes his way, others try to tackle him."

Deng was taken to a Pennsylvania hospital by his friends early Sunday morning, authorities said. He later died of his injuries.

Deng was unresponsive and in critical condition upon his arrival at the hospital. Physicians determined Deng had suffered major brain trauma, and he was on life support, according to the district attorney's office.

Authorities said more than 30 members of fraternity Pi Delta Psi had traveled to a residence in the Pocono Mountains, roughly 90 miles away from New York City, for the weekend.

Some fraternity members left the residence before police arrived, said Pocono Mountain Regional Police Chief Harry Lewis. Police are "looking for them and hoping they will come forward with any information."

The police have not yet concluded how long the fraternity members waited before taking Deng to the hospital, but Christine said that length of time will contribute to the severity of charges.

"The transport was done in a private vehicle by one or more of the fraternity members, which means this poor victim wasn't receiving any medical attention until the time he actually made it to the hospital," Christine said.

In a statement Thursday, Pi Delta Psi Fraternity Inc. said it was "immediately suspending all new member education nationwide until further notice."

The fraternity will also conduct a full investigation into Deng's death, the statement said.

In a statement, Baruch College said Wednesday that Deng died while participating in an unsanctioned fraternity pledging event.

Baruch College has a "zero tolerance policy regarding hazing," according to the statement.

Deng's death is a "deeply painful reminder that no individual should ever be put into a position where his or her personal safety is in jeopardy," the statement said.

Along with its own internal review, Baruch is cooperating with law enforcement, the statement said.
   
 CNN's Allie Malloy and Christina Romano contributed to this report.
   
 The-CNN-Wire
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