Jul 02, 2015 03:53 PM EDT
Armando Villa Hazing Death: Parents of Cal State Student Sue School, Pi Kappa Phi
The parents of Armando Villa filed a lawsuit Wednesday against California State University - Northridge (CSUN), various administrators and the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity for negligence and hazing related to the death of their son.
Villa, 19, died on a hiking trip on July 1, 2014 the CSUN Zeta Mu fraternity chapter organized as an initiation ritual. According to the Associated Press, Villa's mother and stepfather filed their lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court on the one-year anniversary of Armando's death.
"It's been a year since Armando's death and we still have no answers," Joseph Serrato said in a statement obtained by the Los Angeles Times. "No one has stepped forward to tell us what happened to my son. I am angry and terribly sad."
"We're just looking for a little closure and justice," Betty Serrato, Villa's mother, told the AP. "They've ruined a life and broken a family."
Douglas Aberle, an attorney representing Villa's parents, told the Times CSUN and PKP's national office were warned about the Zeta Mu chapter before Villa's death. PKP closed the chapter in Sept. 2014 and did not comment on the lawsuit, only offering their "thoughts and prayers [to] Armando's family and all those affected by his passing."
The Sundial, a CSUN student-run newspaper, published the school's full investigation report last Sept., revealing several details of the hike last July. The report referenced retreats to the Mojave Desert and to the Angeles National Forest.
The fraternity called another trip their "Super Awesome Weekend," which CSUN determined "more than likely" took place on the Condor Peak Trail. This was the hike on which Villa passed out and later died.
Pledges were forced to wear "Vans-type slip-ons" purchased at a "3 for $20 store" before making the trip estimated at 14 to 16 miles. Villa and another pledged were allegedly given shoes that were too small. Emergency responders found Villa lying on the side of the trail "in great distress and very hot."
Like other pledges, he was showing symptoms of heat stroke and dehydration. Though investigators did not believe the pledges were intentionally deprived of water, they still deemed the incident hazing.
"CSUN had no knowledge of Pi Kappa Phi's actions," Jeff Noblitt, a spokesman for CSUN, said in a statement to the Times. "Following CSUN's independent investigation, the university permanently banned Pi Kappa Phi from ever operating on campus again. The death of Armando was a tragedy and our hearts continue to go out to his family and friends."
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