Penn State student killed in fall from apartment balcony

bmilazzo@centredaily.comNovember 16, 2013 

— A 20-year-old Penn State student died early Saturday morning after he fell from a downtown apartment balcony, State College police said.

Conor F. MacMannis, of Stafford, Va., was pronounced dead at the scene by county Coroner Scott Sayers.

MacMannis fell from a ninth-floor balcony of the Penn Tower apartment complex at about 3:40 a.m. Saturday. He was reportedly a resident of the complex.

Residents and security officers were standing on the steps of the entrance to the apartment building facing East Beaver Avenue when MacMannis fell off the balcony from Apartment 907, State College police Lt. Mark Argiro said.

MacMannis’ roommate was not in the unit at the time of the incident, Argiro said.

Argiro said police questioned dozens of witnesses. He could not say if there was an active party going on at the location, but said that several people were in an apartment at the time of the accident. Police are continuing to investigate the incident.

“If there was a party, it was not rowdy and out of control,” Argiro said.

The preliminary investigation shows that drugs and alcohol appear to be a factor in the fall, Argiro said.

“We don’t think it is a suicide, but also don’t think he was thrown,” Argiro said. “It is a matter of determining toxicology reports that will tell police a lot of information. We’re working every angle.”

Toxicology results take at least a week to come in, Argiro said.

Sayers said Saturday that MacMannis landed on the sidewalk. He died of head trauma and the death was accidental.

MacMannis’ family was en route to State College on Saturday afternoon.

“There is no way to describe how the family is dealing with this,” Argiro said. “It’s a horrible day for them.”

MacMannis was on the Penn State Behrend track and field team from 2011 to 2013.

Argiro said he was put in charge of an initiative in 1998 to limit balcony problems after numerous incidents of residents throwing items, including themselves, off the balconies at apartment complexes in State College. Floor numbers were placed on the outside of the buildings to help people put in perspective the height of the facilities.

Argiro said the borough might consider putting up netting at residences that have balconies, but he doubted that it would actually happen.

“People pay a lot of money for an amenity like an outdoor balcony,” Argiro said.

He called Saturday’s incident “a random fatal fall.”

In a statement, Penn State said grief counseling is available.

“The death of any student is a terrible loss, and we send our deepest sympathy to his family and friends,” university spokeswoman Lisa Powers said. “Our Student Affairs staff has been in touch with the family and is providing counseling to others on campus through CAPS. We are deeply saddened by this tragic event.”

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact police at 234-7150 or may submit an anonymous tip at www.statecollegepa.us.

The incident marks the third time in a little more than a year that a Penn State student or former student fell from or jumped out of a downtown apartment building.

“These have been random acts,” Argiro said. “It’s rare that something like this occurs in the absence of drugs or alcohol.”

In October 2012, Penn State cheerleader Paige Raque fell nearly 40 feet from a window in Calder Commons apartments. Raque survived the fall.

In April, former Penn State student Joshua A. Zornberg died after lunging headfirst through an open window of a sixth-floor downtown apartment building and falling to the street below. His death was ruled a suicide.

“We just urge residents to take extra precaution, to look out for yourself and your friends,” Argiro said.

Britney Milazzo can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @ M11azzo.

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