BELLEFONTE, Pa. – A forensic pathologist testified Friday that the injuries that killed a Penn State fraternity promise of last year may not be fatal if the members of the brotherhood had called for help faster.
Dr. Harry Kamerow took the stand in a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence to proceed with charges against the 11 members of Beta Theta Pi in the death of Tim Piazza of Lebanon, New Jersey.
Piazza, 19, died from severe head and the spleen and abdominal injuries fall cellar stairs in the night of a pledge bid acceptance ceremony, Kamerow said, adding that the Piazza had also consumed a dangerous amount of alcohol, three or four times the legal limit for driving.
He said Piazza had a much better chance of survival had help called after he was brought upstairs. Instead, brotherhood members were shown on camera that is half-hearted and even counter-productive steps to his condition, and an ambulance was not called until the next morning.
“He has a much better chance to survive, as they brought him out of the basement, included what’s going on,” and called an ambulance, Kamerow testified. “If he is very close to that period, he has a good shot. As time passes, his prognosis grows dimmer and dimmer and dimmer.”
The suspects, between the 26 young men accused of crimes in connection with the Piazza’s death, was not in court for the preliminary hearing, which could stretch well into next week.
Piazza’s parents, Jim and Evelyn Piazza, were in the courtroom as Kamerow described their son’s injury, a fractured skull, brain bleeding, a shattered spleen and bruising.
The house of the extensive security camera system showed Piazza participation in a pledge to drink gauntlet, worn over after a fall from the steps at 11:20 pm that He was finally left alone in the dimly lit first-floor “great room” overnight.
In the morning, Piazza somehow ended up back in the basement, where the fraternity members found him unconscious. She carried him to the top and then waited 40 minutes to call for help. He died in a hospital in less than a day later.
Five of the 11 defendants are charged with involuntary manslaughter. Other costs are hazing, reckless endangering, conspiracy and alcohol violations.
The attorney general’s office has said the assessment of the case is still pending and has not indicated plans for other suspects.