Although it may take months to determine the official death University of Oregon student Dylan Pietrs, who died while on houseboat trip on Shasta Lake, the sheriff’s department has determined a likely cause.
Shasta County Sheriff’s Deputy Larry Fitch revealed in an interview with The Oregonian that 21-year-old Pietrs was found on May 19 laying at the bottom of a hill near his Gooseneck Campground campsite tightly wrapped in his tent. When his friends found him down the hill that morning, he may have been there for hours.
The Shasta County Coroner has not yet released a cause of death, and toxicology reports could take months.
Pietrs had been drinking during the day 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 like “a toosie roll” 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.
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.
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.