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CSUN student died on fraternity-planned hiking trip, Pi Kappa Phi says

Cal State Northridge student died while hiking on a fraternity chapter-planned hike, the fraternity says

A Cal State Northridge student who died while hiking in the Angeles National Forest was on a fraternity-planned trip, an official with Pi Kappa Phi said Thursday.

Armando Villa, 19, was one of several new members of Pi Kappa Phi participating in a chapter-planned activity Tuesday, said Justin Angotti, the fraternity's assistant executive director of education and accountability.

He added that Villa, a Sylmar resident, and other pledges were with some previously initiated members of the fraternity for the outing.

Los Angeles County sheriff's officials, who have not officially identified Villa, said the victim was hiking with friends off Big Tujunga Canyon Road and "passed out" along the trail after they apparently ran out of water.

Homicide detectives were conducting an accidental death investigation and have interviewed family members.

The chapter has since suspended its activities while local authorities and the national fraternity investigate the situation. 

“We’re working to gather as much information as we can about that while also supporting the students," Angotti siad. 

He said the fraternity members were "understandably very shaken by what's happened."

The fraternity chapter at Cal State Northridge was chartered in 1989 and has 40 members. It recruits students in both the spring and the fall.

Family members have publicly blamed the fraternity for Villa's death, with his aunt telling NBC4 Wednesday that "they left him there to die," his bare feet blistered.

Villa participated in spring recruitment and was scheduled to be initiated sometime before students returned for the fall semester, Angotti said. He was going to enter his second year at the university.

CSUN's president spoke with Villa's mother late Wednesday afternoon to offer her condolences and assure her that the university is conducting an investigation, said school spokeswoman Carmen Ramos Chandler.

For breaking news in Los Angeles and the Southland, follow @Caitlin__Owens, or email her at caitlin.owens@latimes.com.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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