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UI student freezes to death after fraternity party

UPDATED: Tue., Jan. 22, 2013, 12:41 p.m.

Joseph Wiederrick (AP Photo)
Joseph Wiederrick (AP Photo)

A University of Idaho student froze to death under a bridge after leaving a fraternity party this weekend.

Moscow police found the body of Joseph Wiederrick, 18, of Hailey, Idaho, under the Paradise Creek Bridge about 4 p.m. Monday, according to Moscow police Chief David Duke. Alcohol was involved.

Wiederrick and his roommate attended a party at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity Saturday night, and Weiderrick left sometime early Sunday morning.

Police believe he became disoriented and entered someone’s home just before 3 a.m. Sunday, believing he was at the fraternity, which was actually about two miles north. The resident asked if he was all right, and he said he was and was going home.

Then around 4 a.m., he knocked on the door of a second residence, Duke said. The person that answered the door later told police Wiederrick was in a state of disarray, and he asked Wiederrick to leave because he felt threatened.

A short time later, Wiederrick fell into a shallow creek bed and sustained minor injuries, Duke said. He sought shelter under the bridge, where he likely died of hypothermia.

His roommate called police upon waking up Sunday afternoon and discovering Wiederrick hadn’t returned to his dorm room in Theophilus Tower.

Police are awaiting toxicology results to determine Wiederrick’s level of intoxication and whether any other substances may have contributed to his disorientation. Authorities do not suspect foul play and do not anticipate filing any charges.

The Latah County coroner is expected to complete an autopsy Wednesday.

UI issued a statement Tuesday regarding the student’s death.

“We are saddened by the loss of Joseph Wiederrick, a freshman at the University of Idaho,” the statement said. “Our heartfelt sympathy go out to his family and friends.”

Counseling services are being provided through University Counseling Services to those affected by the loss, according to the statement.

Another University of Idaho student was found dead in his dormitory room about 8 a.m. Saturday in an unrelated incident. The 18-year-old man, of Middleton, Idaho, died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.