STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (CBSNewYork) — Questions are surrounding the death of a Pennsylvania State University student from New Jersey after police say paramedics weren’t called until about 12 hours after he fell at a fraternity house.
Police said Timothy Piazza fell down some steps around 11 p.m. Thursday while at a party at the Beta Theta Pi frat house on campus.
State College police Lt. Keith Robb said an ambulance responded to the fraternity house around 10:49 a.m. Friday when Piazza was found unconscious at the bottom of the basement steps.
“They were told he had been at a party there the night before and had fallen down some basement steps around 11 p.m. the following night. That would have been Feb. 2,” said Robb.
Two days after the fall, police said Piazza died from his injuries.
“I was notified by the Dauphin County Coroner on Saturday morning that Mr. Piazza was pronounced dead,” said Robb.
The Dauphin County Coroner determined Piazza sustained multiple traumatic injuries from the fall and deemed his death accidental.
The 19-year-old from Lebanon, New Jersey was a graduate of Hunterdon Central Regional High School, an AP student who played football, ran track and was a peer mentor.
“Tim loved spending his summers at the beach with his family and friends, jet skiing, playing golf and taking it to the hoop in friendly pickup basketball games. He was smart, funny, friendly and kind,” a statement from Kearns Funeral Home, of Whitehouse, N.J., read. “His time here has been all too brief but his memory will remain forever in the hearts of all who knew and loved him.”
“I really don’t know how to feel about that. I’m still numb, and I think that’s how a lot of people feel. He was a young guy,” Piazza’s childhood friend Tre Mansdoerf told CBS2’s Ali Bauman.
Mansdoerf said many saw him as a role model.
“He just loved making people smile and be happy. He was really good at that,” he said. “I know it sounds like a cliche, but that’s genuinely what he did. He was really, really good at making people happy.”
Neighbors say learning of a young life cut suddenly cut short is heartbreaking.
“You send your kid to college and never expect them not to come home,” neighbor Sharon Richard told CBS2’s Magdalena Doris. “I feel so bad for the family.”
“It’s scary as a parent to think your child is in a situation where they go off to college and you hope they would be safe, but something like this happens,” Brooke Leibovitz said
Piazza was a sophomore who was studying engineering at Penn State and pledging the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, which released a statement saying in part: “Our chapter is mourning the loss of Tim Piazza, a student who recently accepted an invitation to join our fraternity. It is believed that Tim’s death stemmed from an accidental injury sustained from a fall in the chapter house.”
Beta Theta Pi has temporarily suspended operations at Penn State as the investigation continues.
Piazza’s wake is scheduled for Friday with his funeral set for the following day at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Whitehouse Station.