19-year-old woman found dead in the snow in Tahoe - Exposure Suspected
A 19-year-old Petaluma woman found dead in the snow near South Lake Tahoe appeared to have taken a wrong turn on New Year's Eve and wandered through the snow a short distance before shedding her winter jacket and coming to rest behind a snow bank, authorities said Monday.
“I don't want to speculate,” sheriff's Lt. Pete Van Arnum said, though he confirmed authorities have received reports that Byrne had been drinking while in town with friends for an outdoor music festival.
He also noted that advanced hypothermia causes confusion and deteriorating cognition. Victims can become disoriented and lose judgment.
“It was subzero that night and, depending on how long she was out in the cold, that could have affected her,” Van Arnum said.
Experts say it's common for those with fatal hypothermia to remove clothing shortly before death because of physiological changes that cause a spreading sense of warmth.
Byrne, a 2011 Casa Grande High School graduate, was attending the three-day SnowGlobe Music Festival at Lake Tahoe Community College when she died late New Year's Eve or early the next morning.
She had driven to Lake Tahoe the previous ...