CSUN student dies from heat on hike in Angeles National Forest

A California State University-Northridge student died Tuesday from heat exposure after hiking in the Angeles National Forest.
A California State University-Northridge student died Tuesday from heat exposure after hiking in the Angeles National Forest.

The U.S. Forest Service said he was found near Big Tujunga Canyon and Vogel Flat road in Tujunga.

Armando Villa, 19, had just completed his first year at the school.

The L.A. County Sheriff's Department said Villa was hiking with friends when he ran out of water and passed out along the trail.

L.A. County Fire personnel responded at 5:07 p.m. Villa was transported to Providence Holy Cross Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. The investigation was ongoing Wednesday.

Villa's family said they were informed of his passing by the hospital at 6 p.m. They said the trip was supposed to be an overnight trip with other students as part of a Pi Kappa Phi fraternity activity.

Relatives of Villa want to know why the teen they describe as the light of their family is dead.

The family believes it was a fraternity hazing prank gone wrong. They say he was barefoot with no water or cellphone.

Relatives say he endured other rituals.

"I remember he came back with his elbows bruised, and he was talking to me about an event he was excited for, and then when he got back I asked him about it, and he was like 'it wasn't even fun'", Villa's cousin, Christopher Castaneda said.

His cousins say Villa had second thoughts about joining the fraternity.

"He went to fulfill a promise he made because he was such a loyal person, such a beautiful, beautiful person, and they treated him that way," Villa's cousin, Mark Castaneda said. "We lost him, and we'll never have that light in our family anymore."

The university and the fraternity are fully cooperating with law enforcement, they said in separate statements.

The school is offering counseling to classmates, faculty and staff.

CSUN said fraternity Pi Kappa Phi must cease and desist all activities pending the outcome of the investigation.

A fund has been set up to help the family pay for funeral expenses. To donate, visit https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/dk05/armando-villa-s-funeral-memorial-fund.

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