Oakland Garden frat pledge’s death ruled a homicide

By Rich Bockmann

The death of a Baruch College freshman from Oakland Gardens during a fraternity hazing ritual in the Pocono Mountains two months ago has been ruled a homicide by the coroner’s office for that area of Pennsylvania.

A spokeswoman for the Luzerne County Coroner’s office said Friday that Chun Michael Deng, 19, died at a Wilkes-Barre hospital Dec. 9 as a result of head trauma he suffered a day earlier in the resort town of Tunkhannock, about 30 miles to the north in neighboring Wyoming County.

The spokeswoman said Deng’s death was ruled a homicide and referred all other inquiries to the Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Baruch, which is based in Manhattan, released a statement extending its sympathies to Deng’s family and friends and said the school was cooperating with law enforcement officials as well as conducting its own internal review.

“Baruch College supports the ongoing efforts of Monroe County law enforcement to hold responsible those involved in the tragic death of Baruch student Michael Deng; a deeply painful reminder that no individual should ever be placed in a position where his or her personal safety is in jeopardy,” the statement said.

Deng was one of four students pledging the Pi Delta Psi fraternity who participated in the “glass ceiling” hazing ritual during which blindfolded pledges wearing backpacks full of 20 pounds of sand attempted to get from one backyard to another while frat members tried to stop them, court records show.

One frat member told police Deng was brought into the house where about 20 brothers were staying after he was pushed to the ground and he laid unconscious for more than an hour, court papers 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.”

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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