Police: Drugs led to Penn State student’s fatal fall

mcarroll@centredaily.comNovember 18, 2013 

— Police believe a synthetic drug being marketed as LSD, or acid, led to the death of a 20-year-old Penn State student who fell from a downtown apartment balcony Saturday morning.

Investigators said use of the psychedelic drug appears to have resulted in the accidental death of student Conor F. MacMannis and overdoses for several others who were with him.

MacMannis, of Stafford, Va., fell from the ninth-story balcony of a Penn Tower apartment at about 3:40 a.m. Saturday.

State College Police Chief Tom King said several people who were in the apartment with MacMannis had to be taken to Mount Nittany Medical Center for treatment of possible drug overdoses.

King said they were suffering from “varying levels of severe reaction to the drug” including hallucinations, extreme paranoia and aggression. Several were combative with authorities.

Six people were treated for possible overdoses, according to police.

A preliminary investigation into MacMannis’ death suggested drugs and alcohol were a factor, police previously said.

Centre County Coroner Scott Sayers ruled the death accidental after an autopsy Saturday. Toxicology tests were ordered, but the results won’t be available for several weeks.

Police, meanwhile, are warning students of the dangers of the drug.

Investigators said Monday they do not know the exact makeup of the drug, but said it appears to be a synthetic compound, possibly similar to LSD.

They believe the drug is being branded as “acid” and is being taken orally on small white rectangular tabs of paper.

“We need the public to be aware,” King said. “This stuff is bad.”

King said police have seen a rise in synthetic drug use, including bath salts and synthetic marijuana, in the past few years. He said police see powerful reactions induced by the drugs.

Investigators are working to determine the source of the drugs they suspect were taken by MacMannis and others in the apartment.

Anyone with information can contact police at 234-7150 or submit an anonymous tip at www.statecollegepa.us.

Police are also continuing an investigation into MacMannis’ death, although they are calling it accidental.

“We have to determine the connection of the drugs to the fall or jump,” King said.

MacMannis died of head trauma after landing on a sidewalk along Beaver Avenue.

He was studying kinesiology at University Park after having attended Penn State Behrend, where he was a member of the track and field team.

Penn State has made grief counseling available in response to the student’s death.

“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 (Counseling and Psychological Services). We are deeply saddened by this tragic event.”

Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter.

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