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Investigation completed into death of SDSU student who died after fall from bed

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Posted at 4:14 PM, Jul 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-02 19:16:30-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- An investigation into the death of 19-year-old SDSU student Dylan Hernandez, who died after falling from his bunk bed after a night of partying, has been completed, University Police said Thursday.

According to a case submitted to the District Attorney’s Office, detectives concluded that there was no basis to prove manslaughter charges because “Hernandez’s death was an accident, and there was no witness or autopsy evidence supporting the existence of any criminal activity that was causally linked to Hernandez’s death."

“There was no basis to prove hazing charges because there were no injuries upon Hernandez’s body that appeared consistent with hazing, and no evidence of student group activities likely to cause serious bodily injury or death, which is statutorily required to prove hazing," the department continued.

Now that the criminal investigation has been completed, the university will conduct an administrative review of the circumstances.

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University Police also provided its final report to the Center for Student Rights and Responsibilities as well as Student Life & Leadership for a review of the alleged misconduct.

“We continue to send our deepest sympathies to the Hernandez family and to others who cared for Dylan Hernandez,” SDSU Police Chief Josh Mays said. “We have taken great care in our investigation, spending months interviewing witnesses and analyzing information to fully understand what took place during the evening.”

In January, an autopsy report revealed that Hernandez died of blunt force injuries to his head, ruling his death an accident.

University Police say Hernandez received the injuries after reportedly falling out off his bunk bed. He was found unresponsive later that morning and taken to the hospital, where he later died.

At the time of the autopsy, a toxicology report also said elevated alcohol levels of 0.06 percent and cannabinoids were found in his system.

Following the news of the completed investigation, the university released the following letter to students:

Dear SDSU Community,

The San Diego State University Police Department (UPD) has completed its nearly six-month investigation, which involved collaboration with the San Diego County District Attorney’s office, into the death of Dylan Hernandez. We thank the Hernandez family along with our campus community for patiently awaiting the outcome of the investigation and the findings. A joint statement [comm.sdsu.edu] by UPD and the District Attorney’s office is publicly accessible online. We appreciate the meticulous care with which UPD completed its investigation, and the department’s close coordination with the District Attorney’s office.SDSU has now received details of the police investigation. At this point, the university may now begin its independent, administrative review and student misconduct investigations. These campus-led administrative investigations will focus on potential violations of university policies, unlike UPD’s investigation, which considered only potential criminal violations. The administrative review process will start immediately, and proceed over the coming weeks.The administrative review process will include investigating alleged misconduct by individual students and Phi Gamma Delta fraternity:

  • The Center for Student Rights & Responsibilities will oversee the investigations reviewing any alleged violations of the Student Code of Conduct.
  • The Office of Student Life & Leadership will oversee the organizational investigation into alleged violations of the Student Organization Code of Conduct.

Task Force Groups Review, Recommendations

The administrative review follows a number of changes already implemented during Spring 2020, and after the Presidential Task Force on Student Activities and Safety and the Presidential Task Force on Alcohol and Substance Misuse groups were announced. Both task force groups were announced via a SDSU presidential order in November 2019.We are pleased to share that the Presidential Task Force on Student Activities and Safety report [comm.sdsu.edu] is finalized; the Presidential Task Force on Alcohol and Substance Misuse will be finalized this month. The reports will each be posted to the SDSU Presidential Task Force Groups [comm.sdsu.edu] site.Since November, and through the recommendations of the task force groups, SDSU has introduced a number of changes in policy and practice meant specifically to enhance a culture of safety and accountability. The changes have been made in consultation with faculty, staff, and students.The following are among a longer list of new additions or changes (more details will be provided in both task force group reports):

  • A Good Samaritan Policy. The policy was introduced to incentivize all SDSU Recognized Student Organizations including removing conduct penalties for certain alcohol and other drug violations. Student organization members are encouraged to make a priority the health and safety of the student community, and seek timely assistance from appropriate emergency personnel and SDSU staff for any student impacted by alcohol or other drugs at a student organization activity.
  • New Requirements for Brotherhood and Sisterhood Events. Social fraternities and sororities, as well as Recognized Student Organizations, including Greek-lettered business and service fraternities, must adhere to new expectations for off-campus gatherings. All must identify and address potential risks, provide an hour-by-hour agenda, submit a risk management form for review, and coordinate with the national office or board to seek approval for the event. For off-campus events not held at designated fraternity/sorority house, national office and or alumni advisors must be present at the activity to help facilitate leadership events and team bonding activities.
  • Restricted Times for Hosted Events. Guidelines restricting times for Interfraternity Council chapter-hosted recruitment and new member education events have been imposed, so that hosted events cannot during certain hours. Additionally, IFC-member organizations will not host recruitment or new member education events and meetings at satellite houses, and IFC-member organizations will need to provide clear guidelines for social gatherings in their bylaws.
  • Hazing Policy Acknowledgement Required. Effective in Fall 2020, all social fraternities and sororities are required to provide formal acknowledgement of hazing policies.
  • Members Must Participate in Educational Programming. All Interfraternity Council-member organizations are expected to participate in the SDSU-hosted New Member Education Symposiums.
  • Enhanced Accreditation Program Expectations. Chapters are expected to meet or exceed the Greek Accreditation Program [comm.sdsu.edu] standard of 90 percent of new members participating in the symposium. Additionally, the overall Greek Accreditation program will be strengthened with a greater emphasis on risk management, new member education, and community wellness.

In Closing

Colleges and universities have, for years, heightened efforts to address alcohol and other drug use as, in Fall 2019, at least five fraternity deaths were reported across the nation by November. The efforts at SDSU detailed above mirror what other colleges and universities across the nation are exploring and, in some cases, go beyond them. All efforts at SDSU are designed to ensure that fraternity and sorority chapters can remain organizations through which students develop their leadership, contribute to the campus and broader community, and develop in meaningful and healthy ways.