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Falls unavoidable, police near PSU admit

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By Anna Orso
Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

STATE COLLEGE — The death of a Penn State student who fell off a ninth-floor balcony is the third of its kind in State College in just over a year.

“These are random events that are going to happen everywhere, and it's just not going to be prevented,” said State College police Lt. Mark Argiro. “I can't think of one specific thing you could do, short of locking windows and balconies and labeling them ‘no access.' ”

Conor F. MacMannis, 20, of Stafford, Va., died from a head injury suffered in an accidental fall about 3:45 a.m. Saturday, according to Centre County Coroner Scott Sayers.

Police said a preliminary investigation revealed drugs and alcohol were involved; however, a full toxicology report won't be completed for about a week.

Argiro said between two to four people were in the apartment where MacMannis was a resident at the time of the accident, and it did not appear a rowdy party had been taking place.

In April, former Penn State student Joshua Zomberg died when he lunged out out a window of a sixth-floor apartment. His death was ruled a suicide.

In October 2012, Penn State cheerleader Paige Raque fell nearly 40 feet from a window during a party. She survived.

Argiro said State College police have had an ongoing project since 1998 meant to limit problems related to balconies, specifically objects being thrown off them during disturbances. To curb such issues, some buildings numbered balconies to increase accountability when balcony incidents occur.

But in terms of limiting accidental falls, Argiro said there's not much that can be done.

MacMannis' family was notified of his death, and Argiro said he “cannot describe the grief they're going through.”

The 20-year-old was a kinesiology major and a high jumper on the Penn State Erie track and field team.

Penn State is offering on-campus grief counseling, officials said in a statement.

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

Anna Orso is a freelance reporter based in State College.

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