Penn State student dies after 11-story fall down apartment trash chute

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Penn State freshman Justine Gross, 19, died due to a late night fall inside the 11th- floor solid waste disposal chute to the ground floor, the State College Police Department said in a news release Friday. - Monkey Business Images/Dreamstime/TNS

A Penn State freshman who was reported missing last week and found two days later at a recycling center, is confirmed to have died after falling down an apartment building’s trash chute.

Justine Gross, 19, died due to a late night fall inside the 11th-floor solid waste disposal chute to the ground floor, the State College Police Department said in a news release Friday.

The strange accident occurred at around 11:30 p.m. on Nov. 10, and video suggests that Gross was alone both in the hallway and trash room, according to the release.

Gross was reported missing shortly after 5 p.m. on Nov. 11 and State College Police Department found her body at 2:45 a.m. on Nov. 12 at the Centre County Recycling & Refuse Authority transfer station in College Township, about five miles away from the apartment, read the release.

Police said that before Gross’ body was discovered, “the waste receptacle was emptied by a Borough of State College refuse truck.”

Gross’ roommates told her mother, Francoise Gross, that the New Jersey native met a man at the apartment building the last night she was seen and offered her a “smoke,” Francoise told NJ Advance Thursday.

The day before Gross’ body was found, the man told Francoise that her daughter, who did not use drugs, “had a really bad reaction, a panic, or whatever and he was trying to take her back to her apartment on the 10th floor,” she explained to the outlet.

Video, according to Francoise, shows her daughter leaving her apartment to meet the man at his seventh-floor apartment, then leaving again and walking in the hall while wobbly. She then runs onto the 11th floor, apparently alone, and according to the outlet, runs into the chute room.

“That’s just not Justine. She would never do something like that, go down a chute,” said Francoise Gross, who also noted her daughter sent a text to a friend minutes before the fall, saying that “Something just happened.”

The elder Gross believes “someone was chasing” her daughter and that Justine went to the chute room believing it to be a stairwell.

Police say Gross’ death appears to be accidental but note her official cause of death is pending final lab results and investigative information.

State College Police are urging anyone with information to contact the department at (814) 234-7150, to email or submit an anonymous tip on the department’s website.

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