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. Investigators believe alcohol use was a factor in the student’s death.
Wiederrick and his roommate attended a party at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity Saturday night, and Wiederrick left sometime early Sunday morning.
Police believe he became disoriented and, believing he was at the fraternity, entered a home about two miles from there just before 3 a.m. Sunday. The resident asked if Wiederrick was all right; the student replied that he was, and was going home, police said.
Then around 4 a.m., Wiederrick knocked on the door of a second residence, Duke said. The person who answered the door there asked the student to leave, telling police he felt threatened by Wiederrick, who police described as being in a state of disarray.
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. Overnight temperatures dipped to 23 degrees in Moscow, according to the National Weather Service.
Wiederrick’s roommate called police upon waking up Sunday afternoon and discovering he 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 today.
The university 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 to those affected by the loss, the statement said.
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.
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