19-year-old Penn State student from NJ dies in fall down trash chute

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Saturday, November 20, 2021
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Naveen Dhaliwal has more as friends and family remember a Penn State student from New Jersey who died after falling down a trash chute.

SUMMIT, New Jersey (WABC) -- A 19-year-old Penn State student from New Jersey died in a fall down an 11th floor trash chute at an apartment building near campus.

State College police say Justine Gross, of Summit, disappeared on the evening of November 10, last seen at the Beaver Terrace apartments.

Police say video evidence shows she was alone in the 11th floor hallway and in the waste disposal room when she fell.

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She was reported missing the next day, and her body was found at the Centre County Recycling and Refuse Authority transfer station in College Township at 2:45 a.m. on November 12.

Family, friends and former Summit High School classmates of Gross gathered on Friday night to remember her.

Her mother, Francoise, tells Eyewitness News that her daughter had dreams to be in finance.

"Pure beauty, and joy and strength and intelligence," she said.

Gross was once a cheerleader.

"She was a leader for her teammates, kind-hearted, bubbly -- a sweetheart," said Varsity Cheerleading Coach Erin Fogarty.

Prior to the discovery of Gross' body, the waste receptacle had been emptied by a Borough of State College refuse truck.

Police say the investigation is ongoing and that all witnesses are cooperating. They further say that they are waiting for the Medical Examiner's report, which could take between four to six weeks.

For now, Gross' death appears to be an accident.

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