Centre County DA Won’t File Charges In Erie Teen’s Accidental Death

Dec 12, 2019

There will be no charges filed related in the case of the 17-year-old from Erie, who died in State College in October, Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna said in a statement Thursday.

John “Jack” Schoenig died on October 19 in a West College Avenue apartment in State College after inhaling a dose of nitrous oxide from a whip-it dispenser, the statement said. State College Police and the county’s Coroner’s Office determined his death was accidental due to chemical asphyxiation. 

Cantorna warned of the medical risk of ingesting nitrous oxide, which could induce head injury, seizure, nerve and brain damage and even death. 

“Tragically, the death of Mr. Schoenig illustrates the life threatening ramifications that inhaling nitrous oxide can have,” Cantorna said. “It is important that our young people and our community understand the risk that this drug poses. It is also important for our community to know that if someone is in distress due to an overdose, alcohol or drug related, they should call 911, render first aid and remain with the person until police arrive.”

Cantorna said those who were with Schoenig attempted first aid, called 911 and stayed with him after he became unresponsive until police and EMT arrived. According to Pennsylvania’s Drug Overdose Response Immunity statute, Cantorna said there will be no charges filed in the matter.

Penn State placed the Chi Phi fraternity on interim suspension following the death. The apartment is reportedly occupied by Penn State’s Chi Phi fraternity members, although it’s not the fraternity’s official house.


A spokeswoman for Penn State said the university's Office of Student Conduct is continuing its investigation into the matter, and "our heartfelt thoughts go out to the family and friends of this young man."