(Update) Baruch College freshman dies in Poconos during frat ‘hazing’

Michael Deng Poconos fraternity hazing
Michael Deng. Credit: Bronx High School of Science

A college freshman studying in New York City died at a home in the Poconos over the weekend during an apparent fraternity initiation ceremony.

Michael Deng, 19, of Oakland Gardens, Queens, attended Bronx High School of Science. He was a freshman at Baruch College in New York City and died while participating in an unsanctioned fraternity pledging event, ABC reported.

There were reportedly 30 members of the Pi Delta Psi fraternity and four new “pledges” at a rented Poconos home on Candlewood Drive in Tunkhannock Township during the event that, according to police, included a ritual initiation where pledges endured verbal insults and physical abuse in the backyard.

Monroe County District Attorney E. David Christine, Jr. told The New York Times that frat pledges were engaging in an initiation called the “glass ceiling,” where a blindfolded pledge with a heavy object on their back must navigate their way to a person calling their name as other participants try to tackle and knock them down.

Deng reportedly was unresponsive after sustaining a traumatic injury, and fraternity members brought him inside, according to the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office. An unspecified amount of time later they brought him to Geisinger Wyoming Valley Hospital early Sunday morning, where he was found unresponsive and in critical condition, and quickly placed on life support. Pocono Mountain Regional Police Officers were advised of the situation at 8:15 a.m. that morning.

Deng died early Monday.

“Baruch College is saddened to confirm the recent death of Chun Hsien (Michael) Deng, a Baruch freshman, as reported to us by the president of the national fraternity Pi Delta Psi,” says a statement released by Baruch College. “The preliminary reports indicate that Michael died over the weekend while participating in an unsanctioned fraternity pledging event.”

Baruch College stated that it has a “zero tolerance policy regarding hazing” and will assist authorities in investigating the death.

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