A 20-year-old Black college student has died following what his family said was a fraternity hazing incident in California late last week. Police are investigating the death and are considering hazing as a possible factor.
Tyler Hilliard, 20, who would have become a junior with an engineering major at the University of California Riverside, lost his life after pledging Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, the young man’s family said. The African-American fraternity has a firm anti-hazing policy, defining hazing as “illegal and a crime in most jurisdictions,” according to its website. “Pledging has been officially abolished as a means of obtaining membership in Alpha Phi Alpha, and pledge ‘lines’ have been officially abolished by the fraternity,” the APA statement also said.
Hilliard began pledging the fraternity and participating in activities in July, his family said. The young man was allegedly pushed into eating an entire onion drenched in hot sauce and had to drink a lot of water. He also was allegedly paddled with a cactus, ABC-owned KABC reported.
The young man, who had no medical problems, was recently treated at a hospital for breathing issues before he was released, his family said. However, things took a tragic turn when after fraternity pledges took part in a strenuous run on Saturday night that ended with him being rushed to the hospital. He was later pronounced dead.
UC Riverside released a statement and its condolences. The school has offered support to the young man’s family and counseling services to the campus community. The university is working with its police department to determine the official cause of Hilliard’s death. Police are waiting on the result of an autopsy, according to KABC.
“A mother should never have a bury a child like that. He’s only 20. He hasn’t even begun to live his life. He had a bright future ahead of him,” said Hilliard’s mother, Myeasha Kimble, according to CBS Los Angeles.