Timothy Piazza, the Penn State University sophomore who was left to die after he tumbled down a flight of stairs at a fraternity initiation event, would have been the first person to have stepped in and helped had the roles been reversed, his girlfriend said Monday.
Piazza, 19, died on Feb. 4, two days after members of Beta Theta Pi waited almost 12 hours before calling emergency crews to respond to his unconscious body in what investigators said was a cruel hazing ritual.
Eighteen members of the fraternity are facing criminal charges, including counts of involuntary manslaughter and felony aggravated assault. The fraternity chapter, which was closed with the national fraternity's backing, also faces charges.
In an interview airing Tuesday on NBC's TODAY, Piazza's girlfriend of almost three years, Kaitlyn Tempalsky, said that he not only would have rendered assistance if the incident had happened to anybody else, but that he also would have "walked away" from the fraternity in disgust.
"In a heartbeat, he would have done it," she said. "He was the first person to check on anyone. Or even if it was just someone [who] looks upset, he was the first person to ask, like: 'Are you OK? What's wrong?'"
Tempalsky said Piazza's compassion was what drew her to him in the first place three years ago, when the met at a teen safety program at their high school.
"He was very driven with helping people," she said. "He wanted to build prosthetics for kids and soldiers."
Tempalsky said Piazza was a serious young man, so much so that she was surprised when he said he wanted to join a fraternity.
"I didn't know if it was necessarily the best fit. But I understood that he wanted a brotherhood," she said.
"Which, unfortunately, is not what he got," she said.