Police Say Psychedelic Drugs Led to Penn Tower Death

After conducting an autopsy, the Centre County coroner determined student Conor MacMannis’s death was accidental, according to the coroner’s office.

MacMannis, 20, died Saturday at approximately 3:43 a.m. after he fell from the balcony on the ninth floor of Penn Tower and landed on Beaver Avenue. He was pronounced dead shortly after the coroner arrived early Saturday morning. The coroner ruled that his death was caused by head trauma sustained from the fall.

Preliminary investigation indicates that drugs and alcohol were a factor in the tragic accident. A toxicology test, which will be released in the next few days, will provide more information as to what happened.

“Toxicology reports can sometimes take a week or more, and that is really going to influence how we look at this investigation,” said State College Police Department Lt. Mark Argiro. “As the media release stated, drugs and/or alcohol are thought to be a factor, but what specific types of drugs and/or alcohol, we don’t know.”

The State College Police Department is investigating the incident by interviewing other students who witnessed the fall at Penn Tower, 255 E. Beaver Ave. Lt. Argiro estimates that dozens of interviews will need to be done before this investigation concludes.

Police are encouraging anyone with information related to MacMannis’s death to contact the State College Police Department.

“It’s tragic,” said Penn State spokeswoman Annemarie Mountz. “We’re trying to come to grips with it ourselves. It’s just so sad.”

Mountz said the university will reach out to students who may have known or been close to MacMannis. Those students are also welcome to contact CAPS for counseling services.

MacMannis was pledging Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity. Jordan Rolon, the Vice President for Communications for the Penn State Interfraternity Council, released a statement on behalf of the organization’s executive board.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Conor F. MacMannis,” Rolon wrote, in part. “It is times like this that the Penn State fraternity and sorority community need to come together and support the MacMannis family to the best of our abilities. Please know that the Interfraternity Council is willing to help anyone who needs assistance due to this tragedy.”

Our hearts go out to the family and everyone who knew MacMannis, who was a a kinesiology major and on the track and field team at Penn State Behrend before coming to University Park.

UPDATE 11-18, 2:44 p.m. — State College Police say that psychedelic drugs, including LSD, led to this tragic situation.

“Over the last few days, the State College Police Department has responded to two calls for drug overdoses related to the use of “acid” or a similar type of drug,” police said in a release. “The initial investigation indicates the use of these drugs has resulted in the accidental death of a Penn State student and treatment of six other individuals for suspected drug overdose.”

“It is believed these drugs are being distributed as “acid” but the exact synthetic compound of the drug has not been determined.   These drugs are usually taken by ingesting small tabs of paper (frequently placed under the tongue) which have been soaked in the liquid form of the drug then dried.  The investigation has revealed the drugs used in the aforementioned incidents have been placed on small white rectangular tabs of paper which is then ingested orally.”

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Jessica Tully

Jessica Tully is a first-year law student at Penn State's Dickinson School of Law. She graduated in May 2014 with degrees in journalism and political science.

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