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Penn State Fraternity Suspended After Teenager’s Death

Posted by Herminia Rendell on October 23, 2019
Penn State Fraternity Suspended After Teenager’s Death

Pennsylvania State University has suspended a fraternity after a teenager died at an off-campus house over the weekend where members of the fraternity were believed to be present, university officials said Tuesday.

The university said in a statement that it had temporarily suspended the Alpha Delta Chapter of the Chi Phi fraternity while the State College Police Department and the university investigated the 17-year-old’s death. The death occurred on Saturday night at a house at 522 West College Avenue in State College, Pa., that was not the fraternity’s official house.

On Wednesday, the Centre County Coroner identified the teenager as John Schoenig.

Mr. Schoenig, who went by the nickname Jack, was a senior at Cathedral Preparatory School, a high school in Erie, according to the school’s president, Scott Jabo.

He was a hockey player and a popular student in his senior class of 125 boys, Father Jabo said. “Very friendly, and never any serious discipline issues with him at all,” he added. “Just a typical high school student, friendly and well liked.”

At around 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, someone reported that the 17-year-old was unconscious and had shallow breathing, the State College Police Department said in a statement. When emergency medical workers arrived, they found the teenager in “full cardiac arrest” and he could not be revived, the department said.

The Police Department said there were “no signs of trauma.” It said on Tuesday night that it was waiting for the results of an autopsy and declined to provide further information about the death.

The authorities have not disclosed the specific connection between the teenager, the fraternity and the house.

“All aspects of the day and evening in question are under investigation by the S.C.P.D. and we would not comment on an ongoing investigation,” said Rachel A. Pell, a spokeswoman for the university.

The fraternity is not allowed to attend or organize any activities or participate in universitywide events as an organization during the temporary suspension, the university said in its statement.

The Alpha Delta Chapter did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday evening.

The Chi Phi Fraternity said in a statement Tuesday that it was “deeply saddened by the tragic events that occurred on Saturday night.”

“Though the at-issue incident occurred off campus at a house that is not owned by Chi Phi, the Chi Phi Fraternity will assist the investigation by university and local officials in any way possible,” the fraternity said.

Fraternities have long been criticized for wild parties and hazing rituals that have at times turned deadly. Schools in recent years have increased measures to crack down on misbehavior.

Prosecutors have also tried to toughen their stance, particularly in cases involving hazing deaths. In July, a former student at Louisiana State University was convicted of negligent homicide for his role in the hazing death of an 18-year-old fraternity pledge who became extremely intoxicated during an initiation ritual in 2017.

In July 2018, a former fraternity brother at Penn State was sentenced to three months of house arrest for his role in the hazing death of a pledge.

Jacey Fortin contributed reporting.

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