SDSU Student’s Death Ruled Accidental by Blunt Force Trauma to Head

The Medical Examiner's Office said Tuesday the student's death was an accident caused by blunt force trauma to the head

An early-morning fall from a dorm room bunk bed contributed to the death of a San Diego State University student last week, according to a report from the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s office.

Dylan Hernandez, a 19-year-old freshman from Jacksonville, Florida, died at a College Area hospital Friday, days after reportedly attending a fraternity event on SDSU's campus.

The Medical Examiner said Hernandez fell from an elevated bunk bed in his dorm Thursday morning and was helped back to his bed. Later that morning, he was found not breathing and pulseless by his roommate and 911 was called.

Hernandez was taken to Alvarado Hospital and his death was pronounced the next night on Friday, Nov. 8, the ME report said. His manner of death was ruled an accident and the cause was ruled accidental blunt force trauma to the head, the ME report said.

Transcriptions of the initial 911 call and following radio call were released on Nov. 26. A toxicology report has not been released. 

SDSU President Adela de la Torre first reported Hernandez's death in a statement Monday, adding, that the family "gave their goodbyes late Sunday night." 

"As a mother, nothing can replace the profound loss of a child, and the devastating heartbreak the family and their loved ones are experiencing. All of us in the Aztec family are sending our prayers, and are here to support the family," the statement read further in part. 

Hernandez was described as an "outgoing, light hearted and goofy person," in a GoFundMe fundraising page that was set up to support the family. 

"He never failed to make everyone in the room smile and his laugh was infectious," the fundraising page said. 

Hernandez was reported in need of medical attention at Tenocha Hall at 6126 Montezuma Road on Thursday, the SDSU Police Department (UPD) said.

The night before, Hernandez allegedly attended a fraternity party -- reportedly held by the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, commonly known as Fiji. 

“We are devastated by the loss of one of our own, and we extend our deepest condolences to the Dylan’s family, friends and classmates. We are working with the university and cooperating with investigators to gather all the relevant facts about what transpired. Our highest priority is the safety of our members and anyone associated with our organization, and we have strict risk management policies governing alcohol use and safety concerns," Executive Director Rob Caudill of Phi Gamma Delta's national office said Tuesday.

"We have placed this chapter on suspension pending our review process, and if it is determined that any of our policies were violated, we will take immediate and appropriate action," Caudill said.

SDSU suspended 14 fraternities associated with its Interfraternity Council (IFC) on Friday while University Police investigated the incident.

De la Torre noted that all but three of the 14 Interfraternity Council-affiliated organizations were already under suspension or under investigation before Hernandez's death.

Phi Gamma Delta was initially placed on probation from April 2017 through June 2018 after a university investigation "found the fraternity responsible for violations of the Alcohol and Failure to Comply policies." Further, in October 2017, the fraternity was placed on an interim suspension for violating the initial probation, according to SDSU.

According to the school's website, the IFC includes:

Alpha Epsilon Pi, Delta Sigma Phi, Delta Upsilon, Kappa Alpha Order, Kappa Sigma, Phi Delta Theta, Phi Gamma Delta, Phi Kappa Psi, Pi Kappa Alpha, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Sigma Chi, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Theta Chi and Zeta Beta Tau.

“While under suspension, the IFC and its organizations will not be recognized and all activities will be suspended. The university will keep the organizations under suspension while it considers next steps,” the statement continued.

SDSU said the suspension does not impact the other 10 fraternities on campus from the National Pan-Hellenic Council, the College Panhellenic Association, the United Sorority and Fraternity Council or the chapters affiliated with those organizations.

In response to Hernandez' death, de la Torre announced Tuesday she will assemble two task force groups.

The Presidential Task Force on Student Activities and Safety (SAS), will review "behaviors, education, policies, processes, and procedures of organizations and their members at San Diego State University," with an emphasis "Fraternity & Sorority Life, Student Organizations & Activities and Associated Students."

The SAS task force will convene through the 2019-2020 school year and will issue a report with recommendations by April 2020.

The Presidential Task Force on Alcohol and Substance Misuse (ASM), which will review "behaviors, trends, prevention, policies and responses related to alcohol and other drug use at San Diego State University." 

The ASM task force will convene through summer 2020 and a report will be issued by July 1, 2020.

Chairs and members for each task force would be assigned during meetings expected to take place in November, de la Torre said.

Both task forces will be made up faculty, students, parents, alumni, staff and administrators.

The California university said any students needing support may contact Counseling and Psychological Services via 619-594-5220 or psycserv@sdsu.edu. 

Faculty and staff who need support can call the Employee Assistance Program at 1-800-342-8111. A website has also been set up to provide information about support services to students. 

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