By Alex Robinson
The Luzerne County coroner’s office in Pennsylvania ruled the death of Baruch College student Chun Michael Deng, 19, a homicide last week in a case that recalls a similar incident involving the death of a Flushing student several years ago.
The circumstances of Deng’s death were eerily similar to those of Arman Partamian, a 19-year-old Flushing student who died of alcohol poisoning in 2009 after he went to a pledge event while attending SUNY Geneseo.
In that case, members of the fraternity-like organization, known as “PIGS” or “Orange Knights,” were convicted of criminally negligent homicide in his death.
Deng died two months ago in a fraternity hazing incident at a house in the Pocono Mountains after more than 20 fraternity members traveled there for the weekend, according to an affidavit seeking a search warrant issued by the Pocono Mountain Regional Police.
The Oakland Gardens student was one of four Pi Delta Psi pledges who participated in a hazing ritual called the “glass ceiling,” in which he carried 20 pounds of sand in a back pack and tried to get from one side of a backyard to another while other frat members physically attempted to stop him, the affidavit said.
The fraternity brothers Googled Deng’s symptoms, changed his clothes and then drove him to the hospital, where he arrived at 6:42 a.m., the documents said. He was pronounced dead Dec. 9 of what the Monroe County district attorney described as “major brain trauma.”
A spokeswoman for the Luzerne County Coroner’s office said last week that Deng died at a Wilkes-Barre, Pa., hospital Dec. 9 as a result of head trauma he suffered a day earlier.
The Monroe County DA and Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the coroner’s findings.
The Deng case is expected to be prosecuted in Pennsylvania, where the crime occurred, since the Queens DA’s office said it has nothing to do with the incident.
Andy Meng, president of the fraternity, is the brother of U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing).
Following the incident, Baruch College banned Pi Delta Psi, which closed down its chapter at the Manhattan college.
In the Partamian case, prosecutors in Livingston County Court brought homicide charges against two of his fraternity brothers.
The night before his death, Partamian consumed an excess of beer, champagne and vodka and participated in a “beer football” event, during which players drink beer after each play, according to a lawsuit filed by Partamian’s father against members of the group in Queens Supreme Court. He then played “dizzy bat, drinking gin, spinning around a bat, running a few yards, then repeating the process,” the suit claimed.
Alex Stucki and another Orange Knights member, Mark Boise, allegedly left Partamian unconscious alone on a bed in the group’s house, the suit alleged. Another member found Partamian to be unresponsive at 10:45 a.m. the next morning and called Stucki, who returned to the house and called 911, according to the lawsuit.
Stucki and Devin McClain both pleaded guilty to the homicide charges and were sentenced to four months of weekends in jail plus five years of probation.
A third member, Daniel Welch, pleaded guilty to first-degree unlawful dealing with a child, and was sentenced to three months of weekends in jail and payment of a $1,000 fine.
Stucki also pleaded guilty to tampering with physical evidence for removing a T-shirt from the home following Partamian’s death.
The case was the first felony homicide charge for a hazing-related death in the state, according to the district attorney for the area.
Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.