State College

Coroner: Penn State student died of electrocution

Centre County Coroner Scott Sayers said Saturday that electrocution was the cause of death of Penn State student who fell from a three-story roof Friday at the corner of West College Avenue and South Barnard Street on Friday.
Centre County Coroner Scott Sayers said Saturday that electrocution was the cause of death of Penn State student who fell from a three-story roof Friday at the corner of West College Avenue and South Barnard Street on Friday. adrey@centredaily.com

The Penn State student who fell off the roof of a State College home Friday died of electrocution, Centre County Coroner Scott Sayers said Saturday.

Police and medical officials responded to a home at about 6 p.m. Friday near the intersection of South Barnard Street and West College Avenue for a report of a fall from the roof of a three-story home.

State College police Lt. Brad Smail said Shannon Mathers, 21, of Warrington, grabbed a “high-voltage wire” when she and friends were on the roof of the house, and then fell.

An autopsy was conducted Saturday. Sayers said Mathers was taken to Mount Nittany Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.

“It is difficult to comprehend such a tragic accident, and we offer our deepest condolences to Shannon’s family on this unexpected and heartbreaking loss of their loved one,” Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers said.

According to Centre LifeLink EMS, Mathers was also an EMT.

“She didn’t grow up here but she was a big part of serving this area,” paramedic and supervisor Frank Cianfrani said. “She was a really nice girl, and (it) is a huge loss for us.”

Cianfrani said Mathers was studying biobehavioral health at Penn State.

“I think she had strong aspirations to go to physician assistant school after undergraduate (school), and she was volunteering with us to get experience,” Cianfrani said.

Mathers took an EMT course in the summer of 2015 with Cianfrani, who said she was one of his best students.

“She just loved what she did, and was willing and eager to care for patients,” he said. “I think that was all part of her warm personality — just to help people, and learn from that experience.”

Cianfrani said Mathers was also working on finishing orientation and gearing up for a promotion to be an attendant, which means she would have been working more independently.

“For her, it was all about getting her feet wet for her future, but also doing it because I think she had a passion to take care of others,” Cianfrani said. “It’s a tough loss, especially because she was so young, but I was fortunate enough to teach her and see her grow from someone who knew nothing about this to becoming a really good young EMT and moving on to the next step.”

As for Centre LifeLink, Cianfrani said its members are taking the news day-by-day.

“We’re allowing her family to grieve and we’re respecting their wishes, but a number of us are also planning to attend her funeral as a representation of our agency, and a representation of Shannon’s commitment to taking care of people in our community,” Cianfrani said.

Smail said foul play was not a factor in her death but encourages the public to be cognizant of their actions.

“We just urge people that if they don’t know the kind of wire it is, not to mess it, touch it or play with it,” Smail said.

Britney Milazzo: 814-231-4648, @M11azzo

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