SHASTA LAKE: Officials investigating after college student, 21, found dead during frat event
SHASTA LAKE — A 21-year-old University of Oregon student, visiting Shasta Lake for an annual fraternity event, was found dead in his sleeping bag Saturday morning. He was discovered the morning after reportedly spending the previous day and night consuming alcohol, according to other students and witnesses.
Gooseneck Cove Boat-In Campground, where the victim was found, is one of four boat-access only campgrounds and is situated along the west side of the upper Sacramento River Arm of the lake, north of Shasta Dam. This year’s event was held from Thursday through Sunday.
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The victim, later identified as Dylan Pietrs, was a business administration major and member of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity.
Shasta County Sheriff’s officials have said their initial investigation uncovered no signs of foul play and the death does not appear to be suspicious in nature.
Officials from Pietrs’ school were quick to distance themselves from the “unauthorized tradition,” which the university’s Division of Student Life described in an initial statement as, “contrary to the values of the university and fraternity and sorority organizations.”
In that initial release about the tragic death, the school also stated, “Students from many institutions have a history of demonstrating poor life choices during visits to Lake Shasta.”
By Sunday, after being publicly criticized for the statement that many university students and Pietrs’ friends and family decried as “insensitive” and “disgusting”, officials amended the statement; calling the victim’s death “tragic.” The amended statement read in part, “We offer our deepest condolences to the friends and family of the student, and we regret the insensitive tone of the earlier statement.”
The death investigation began shortly before 9 a.m., when Cal-Fire and Shasta County Sheriff’s Office Boating Safety personnel were dispatched to the Gooseneck Cove Boat-In Campground, after SHASCOM received a frantic 911 call reporting a young male adult who was not breathing.
911 Callers told emergency dispatchers that resuscitation efforts and CPR were in progress, but the young adult could not be revived. When emergency first responders arrived at the campground they pronounced Pietrs deceased at the scene.
Based on the circumstances, SCSO Boating Safety personnel assumed the investigation, with assistance from a Shasta County Coroner Investigator.
During their initial, on-scene investigation, sheriff and coroner personnel interviewed fellow students and other potential witnesses. Officials learned Pietrs was at the lake with hundreds of other University of Oregon students for an annual event organized by the schools’ fraternities.
After the day and night spent drinking, other students reportedly discovered the victim’s lifeless body in a sleeping bag inside a small tent set up on the lake’s shore.
Although alcohol is suspected as a contributing factor in Pietrs’ death, determination of the victim’s cause of death is pending autopsy.
This is a developing story that will be updated as information becomes available.
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Trevor Montgomery, 46, recently moved to Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations, including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle and Anza Valley Outlook, as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and The Mountain Echo in Shasta County.
Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.
Trevor has been married for more than 27 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 14 – soon to be 15 – grandchildren.