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Fraternity suspended after pledge dies during hike

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A fraternity at California State University, Northridge, has been ordered to suspend all its activities while the school and sheriff's detectives investigate the death of a 19-year-old pledge on a hike, officials said.

An administrative probe of Pi Kappa Phi was launched Wednesday, a day after the death of Armando Villa in the Angeles National Forest, school spokeswoman Carmen Ramos Chandler told the Los Angeles Times (http://lat.ms/1vyVUvD).

A Los Angeles County sheriff's statement said Villa was in a group hiking off Big Tujunga Canyon Road and passed out along the trail after they apparently ran out of water. Temperatures were in the upper 80s for much of the afternoon.

Homicide detectives were conducting an accidental death investigation and have interviewed family members, the statement said.

Villa, a Sylmar resident, was heading into his second year at Cal State Northridge. He and other pledges were with some previously initiated members for the fraternity-planned outing, said Justin Angotti, the Pi Kappa Phi's assistant executive director of education and accountability.

Villa participated in spring recruitment and was scheduled to be initiated sometime before students returned for the fall semester, Angotti told the newspaper.

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

Pi Kappa Phi's national office said it is fully participating with investigators.

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

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