A coroners report was released on the tragic death of UO student Dylan Pietrs on Shasta Lake in May and suffocation was determined to be the cause of death. “Acute alcohol intoxication” was also listed as a significant contributing factor.
The 21-year-old was intoxicated when he went to sleep in his tent and after rolling down a hill and being wrapped up in his tent like “a toosie roll,” he was unable to breath in the enclosure. The report listed Pietrs’ blood alcohol content at 0.227.
According to witnesses, Pietrs had been drinking during the day near the Gooseneck Cove Campground and was helped by friends into his tent around 5:30 or 6:30 pm on the night of May 18th. Later that night around 11:30 pm, Pietrs’ friend noticed his tent had moved, but believed Pietrs had woken up and moved his tent.
When his friends found him in the morning, he was wrapped up in his tent at the bottom of the nearby hill and was already deceased. Investigators found some small bruising including “a small contusion on Pietrs’ forehead, above his right eye” but nothing suspicious in nature.
Pietrs was a business administration major and a co-founder of Limitless Peak, an outdoor sports start-up based in Colorado.
The tragedy rocked the university’s campus in Eugene, Oregon, especially after an insensitive statement was sent out from the university on behalf of the Division of Student Life.
“As devastating as this sudden passing is, it is important to point out that this tragedy is connected to an unauthorized tradition among many college students,” read the statement.
“Students from many institutions have a history of demonstrating poor life choices during visits to Lake Shasta,” the statement read. “These activities are contrary to the values of the university and fraternity and sorority organizations.”
The term “poor life choices” was ripped apart by students and parents alike. While the statement was trying to turn this into a teaching moment for students considering the trip to Shasta Lake, it was poor timing and wordage to use at the time.
The death was another tragedy related to college students flocking to Shasta Lzke during spring months. Safety is very important when camping and houseboating. For some tips to the young people considering a trip to the lake, read our Open Letter to the Students “Houseboating” on Shasta Lake.