RIVERSIDE (CBSLA) — A devastated family wants to know if hazing led to the death of their son who was pledging a fraternity at UC Riverside.
Police are waiting for the results of the autopsy. Right now they’re just calling it a “suspicious death” investigation. But the student’s family believes it was hazing.
20-year-old Tyler Hilliard should be getting ready for his junior year at UC Riverside. But he died suddenly this weekend and his family doesn’t know why.
“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 Tyler’s mother Myeasha Kimble.
Tyler was pledging the fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha.
Members of the group told the family that they were beginning a hike on Mt. Rubidoux Saturday night, when he collapsed and had to be taken to Riverside Community Hospital.
“They did a toxicology report, the doctors told me, and there were no findings,” said Kimble.
When Tyler’s aunt looked through his phone, she found messages referring to hazing activities that had been going on for weeks. It appears other pledges may have suffered injuries.
“There are texts where the group was saying ‘don’t tell anyone we had to go to the hospital. If anyone asks, say we had to go to CVS really quickly,’ ” said Tyler’s aunt Robyn Fountain.
According to Alpha Phi Alpha’s national website, the fraternity does not allow pledging or hazing of any kind. Their executive director says: “Working with the University. The Fraternity has launched an investigation into the situation and has placed the chapter on an immediate cease and desist status, suspending all activities.”
Tyler’s family says they want to get to the bottom of what happened, so they can make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.
“I want answers. I want an apology, I want to know what happened. I want people to be truthful about what happened. I want justice for my son, because he did not deserve this,” said Kimble.
UC Riverside put out a statement saying they’re working with the Riverside Police to determine the circumstance of Tyler’s passing.
In the meantime, they are making counselors available to those who knew him.