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Joseph WiederrickMoscow, ID — An 18-year-old student at the University of Idaho froze to death under a bridge after he left a fraternity party and wandered five to seven miles in the snow.

Authorities say that Joseph Wiederrick attended a Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity party Saturday night and left on foot early Sunday morning. He called his roommate to inform him he was on his way to the dorm, but he never made it.

Police were called and a found him on Monday afternoon under the Paradise Creek Bridge, miles from where he had started walking. Temperatures that night had dropped to 24 degrees, and the poor kid froze to death after wandering around looking for his dorm.

Investigators were able to piece together some of what Wiederrick did after he left the party by following the trail he left, and it is apparent he was suffering from the effects of alcohol and hypothermia.

A little before 3 a.m., a homeowner found Wiederrick in her basement. “She asked him what he was doing there and he said he thought it was a fraternity house,” Moscow Police Chief David Duke said. The woman said Wiederrick did not seem intoxicated and that she asked him to leave when he said he was all right and was headed home.

An hour later, Wiederrick knocked on the door of the FarmHouse fraternity. The person who answered told police that Wiederrick looked in disarray and that he told the teen to leave because he felt threatened. Based on his tracks in the snow, Wiederrick went to another residence for help, but no one answered the door.

Two 13-Year-Old Boys Accused Of Sexually Assaulting Female Student In Boy's Bathroom

Not long after, Wiederrick wandered close to his intended destination and fell down an embankment into a shallow creek bed, suffering minor injuries. He managed to crawl under the Paradise Creek Bridge where he eventually froze to death in the sub freezing temperature. Looking at Google Street View, his dorm would have been visible.

Hypothermia is nasty business. Some of the effects Wiedrick was experiencing before his body began shutting down included confusion, lack of concentration, and amnesia. This was exasperated by the teen having alcohol in his system.

“Consumption of alcohol undoes many of the human body’s healthy reflexes, one of which is keeping the core body temperature warm in cold weather,” says Dr. William G. Haynes, Director of Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Iowa College of Medicine. “We may feel warm from the blood rushing to our skin, but our body is actually losing heat faster, bringing about an increased danger of hypothermia.”

Just to give you an idea of just how disorientated Wiederrick was, here’s a map of where we know he went that I spent way too much time making.

We’ve posted stories like this one before, and they always remind me of the creepy story of the Nebraska couple that froze to death during a snow storm while on meth and while talking to a 911 dispatcher.

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  • Andyman

    This makes me sad/mad that he went to three different locations first only to be turned away the first two times with no answer at the third. To make matters worse, according to your map of his path Morbid, he walked several blocks directly past his intended destination. It also saddens me that we live in such a world these days that nobody can be bothered to help someone in obvious need. I am sure he was menacing with his drunken stupor and the symptoms of hypothermia. RIP Joesph. Sorry this worked out this way for you.

  • Sam

    Wow. Managed to make it all through adolescence whilst skillfully avoiding traffic accidents, kitchen mishaps and no doubt the odd perv in a raincoat. Managed to make it all the way through the party without falling from a balcony and without passing out and having your friends draw on you with sharpies. But i guess Father Frost just had it in for you, kid. RIP.

  • Sam

    It seems we need to educate youngsters about more than “don’t give yourself alcohol poisoning”, “don’t drink and drive” and “don’t go home with some random stranger”. Same thing happened here on the same day: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2265735/Bernadette-Lucy-Lee-Woman-25-dead-collapsing-snow-walk-home-winter-coat.html
    She froze to death outside her sister’s house, who had gone to stay with a friend because she couldn’t find her key. Can you imagine coming home after relocating the key to find your sister in your garden?

  • Andyman

    Well, she shouldn’t have been “heading round” (LOL) without shoes or a coat after drinking at the club. Not trying to come down on her but she was 25 (a little older too). I don’t know about you but when I’m headed round after a night of drinking I don’t do it without shoes or a coat in the snow. Sounds like darwin is lurking round. lol

  • Sam

    It seems i need to explain the general choice of attire of 90% of the girls here in the UK when they go out. Think skyscraper heels, skimpy dress or skirt / halterneck top, and definitely no coat to obscure all the ‘goods on offer’. Basically think high-class hooker (not that they are, but it sure looks that way. 12 years here and i still can’t get used to what they wear or rather not wear!). I can easily see how she would have taken her shoes off after realising (probably about 20 minutes into the evening 😉 that they were unsuitable to walk on. After that it wouldn’t take much to lose them altogether, especially if she was stumbling about in hypothermia.
    I don’t think the mere 7 years she’s got on him should mean that she’s stupid and should have known better. She thought she was doing the right thing – finding her way to a safe haven after getting separated from her friends. How was she to know that her sister wasn’t going to be home that night after all?

  • That’s an amazing map you made there.

  • OutOfBubbleGum

    Well, nothing about this episode surprises me espically if he was drinking “REDRUM, REDRUM!!!”

  • Sam

    Found him under a bridge? This suddenly makes me wonder how many of todays homeless are just disoriented fraternity brothers, aimlessly wandering about town whilst muttering “phi. kappa phi. epsilon house. CHUG CHUG CHUG! heehee! kappa? OOH, SQUIRREL!”

  • OutOfBubbleGum

    See, I told you this would happen!! Dam, St. Bernard Rescue Dog Union getting days off for Federal Holidays in winter. Can’t they just get floating holidays like the rest of us?

  • OutOfBubbleGum

    Did I ever tell you that you’re brilliant cause you are?

  • Andyman

    I hear you Sam but even her dad indicated he’d come right round to get her. Did she not knock on a neighbor’s door or have a phone to call her father proper? Doesn’t sound like it. (hehehe did you see what I did there?) lol. Anyway it is a tragedy but was also quite avoidable. And 7 years on him when the other person is an 18 year old MALE is a HUGE difference at that age. I was just getting kicked out of college at 18 and didn’t grow up until at least 25 when I got my first job and bought my first house. Just sayin’.

  • Sam

    Charmer! 🙂

  • Sam

    Same goes for him – he obviously had a phone on him because he called his roommate on it earlier. Yes, at least he tried to knock on doors but sadly didn’t get anywhere. But as a young woman in skimpy attire in the middle of the night i very much doubt she would have been knocking on random stranger’s doors. And though you’re very sweet for thinking women are grown up by the time they’re 25, i can distinctly remember episodes at that age that i’d rather forget (not to mention a few black holes ;).
    I guess we’ll just have to leave it that they were both too disoriented from the hypothermia to think clearly. Sad all round.

  • I do it out of love. I do it for you.

  • Andyman

    Too bad; if she’d have knocked my door I would have let her in; and she would be alive today. Lol. Of course he actually spoke to people who denied him. Repeatedly.

  • Cory

    Very detailed map Morbid 🙂 And how is this shocking anymore? no one cares about anyone or anything but themselves these days, your pretty much on your own. Although you may get lucky sometimes family acts like they give a shit out of pitty. Ahhh america home of the whopper :/

  • scud420

    My alma mater… and not to detract from your cartography skills, but I’m pretty sure that’s not actually the bridge they
    found him under. I’m pretty sure he was found on a bridge north of
    town. My wife saw helicopters flying around all day Monday by our house as they
    were looking for him. That is news to me though that he stopped by Farm House… You’d definitely right though, they are a bunch of pussies. He’s just lucky they didn’t shoot him as they mentioned they felt threatened by him and I’m sure hicks have all sorts of loaded guns.

    Yeah, here’s a map of where he was actually found…

    Here’s the student newspaper’s article on the tradgedy:

    much farther from Theophilus Tower and the residence he knocked on the door at was on the NE corner of town on mountain view. shit, he could have knocked on my door and I wouldn’t have let him in to my small ass house with my 3 little kids having read many of the stories on this page before. I would have called the cops though, who knows.

  • EveryVillainIsLemons

    I don’t get why none of the people who had a drunk teenage stranger at their door called police to come and get him. If they did he might be alive today.

    And just for the record, alcohol consumption speeds up hypothermia.

  • scud420

    Yeah that was my first thought. “Why didn’t anyone call the cops?” And then my friend reminded me “maybe they thought they were doing him a favor”…

  • tkaz

    I looked at the map because I didn’t want Morbid’s hard work to be in vain. But after looking at it I just got SAD. He passed RIGHT BY IT!
    I’m showing this story to my teenager. One, we want to move to Idaho & we’re used to the desert & Two, she needs to know the horror stories of alcohol. I even told her one of mine….my friends left me in Mexico & I had to walk back to the motel(2-3miles) by myself in the dark, drunk, Mexicans in pickups asking if I needed a ride (they knew THAT in English!)….I lived & was not raped. Fucking angel was with me or something.
    College students should reflect on what they learned in elementary school – Usethe Buddy System. You leave, your buddy leaves. Odds are they won’t BOTH die. I hope.

  • tkaz

    This goes to show you how scared we all are. As a society. He LOOKED scary, he SAID he was fine. How about calling the cops & telling them a disoriented teen is out in freezing temps….worst case scenario he gets a warm jail cell to sleep off his booze.

  • tkaz

    I think you’re right. I can’t tell you how many homeless have asked to see my boobs….OBVIOSULY from a fraternity!!! ;D

  • Andyman

    That shit must have taken all night! 🙂 All kidding aside, thanks for all the hard work you put into this site, Morbid.

  • Buffettgirl

    Not to be cruel, but the kid was from Idaho, it was not unknown to him that drinking and walking on an Idaho winter’s night isn’t safe or smart. I feel bad for what happened, but it’s not like the kid was from Alabama and was new to the weather out here in the Pacific Northwest.

    On the other hand, I’m horrified that no one helped him that night. Whatever happened to being our brother’s keeper?

  • LuvsHorror

    Lets hear about those ‘episodes’…

  • I guess the kid never saw the show “I Shouldn’t Be Alive” on Animal Planet. There are numerous re-inactments in that show of how people almost died because of severe cold yet managed to survive. This story proves how people don’t understand the dangers of the elements, the stories are out there yet people don’t wanna listen. This could easily have been prevented.

  • newstarshipsmell

    The labels on the southeast end really make the map.

  • CT

    Puts down her drink.

  • newstarshipsmell

    Puts something in it while she isn’t looking.

  • CT

    Oh you. I would expect anything less. This time take it easy, OK?

  • come_and_see

    As soon as I saw Moscow I knew Vodka was involved.

  • newstarshipsmell

    Damn, you’d think he would’ve turned around when he wandered out of town, but then, alcohol and hypothermia, I guess.

  • Abroad

    Too right! They go out dressed like pole-dancers and insist on being treated like “ladies”. I can feel pneumonia creeping up on me just looking at them.

  • And yet if he was just smoking weed instead of drinking he might have wandered home safely with a bag of funions.

  • FrikkenFrak


  • scud420
  • brandi

    TALK ABOUT A COLD SHOULDER! why did the lady just cast him out of her basement without thinkin anything of it? wouldn’t she atleast notify police that someone was lurking in her basement and is confused and bumfuzzled? i see that it says her testimony came from police cheif but was that the in the morning when they found him dead? or at 3 a.m.?

  • brandi

    “you may not be a whore, but your wearing a whore’s uniform” – Dave Chapelle

  • bethied

    *exacerbated by alcohol, not exasperated, for heaven’s sake. It only makes you look smarter if you use the big words correctly.

    Sad story, though, poor kid.

  • Blame the Chrome spellchecker. I’m a genius.

  • perfect

  • Was wondering if there’s security guards driving around the campus, why they didn’t see him?
    He sure would have stood out.

  • JohnQknowitall

    It is so easy to second guess people, but in college something very similar happened to me on New Years morning at about 3 am. A woman surprised me by tapping me on the shoulder. She and her husband insisted on taking me home. I have no idea who they are and I don’t even remember what they looked like, but I am pretty sure they saved my life.

  • Heather_Habilatory

    He looks 12. I would have definitely called the police on him.

  • Heather4877

    Speaking as a recovering alcoholic I have to say when you’re powerfully drunk you can get lost walking from the front door to the back door. Navigating to my dorm? Not a chance. Add hypothermia and a couple of rolls in the snow…I can absolutely see how this happened. I’m surprised he made it under the bridge.
    I did my undergrad work at the University of Montana. I don’t know how I made it home most winter nights.
    So sad for his family.

  • lyssdexia

    (*gasp!) Did you hear that? Somewhere, an English teacher just had an orgasm…..

  • Jtrnr8

    There are several inaccuracies in this story. He did not knock on farmhouse fraternity, near his dorm. He knocked on a farm house at least 5 miles away. He was nowhere near his destination when he slipped and fell – he was outside city limits, across from the farm house where he knocked on the door and a woman living alone suggested he go to a house nearby for help. He did, but no one answered. It is very troubling he attempted to find shelter three times and ended up dying of hypothermia, under a bridge. I can only imagine the grief his loved ones are dealing with.

  • midniteshadows

    My husband just rescued a drunk old man about 1/2 a block from our home. Today’s high with wind chill was a whopping -14 degrees. My husband drives by this house and sees an old man splayed out in the front yard. He flips a U, gets out of the car, walks up to the guy, “Hey! You ok?”

    The guy says, “Fuck you!! You fucking bastard!”

    Hubby helps the guy up and walks him to the front door. The guy takes a swing, falls down and starts cussing all over again. This time, hubby grabs the guy by the seat of his pants, drags him to the front door, opens it and shoves him in. “Now stay in there you s.o.b. before you freeze your ass off.”

    The old guy’s sprawled out on his living room floor just a sleeping away.

    Oh. The guy’s house is kitty korner from the fire station which is on the corner of main street in town. Tell me no one saw this guy out in freezing weather sprawled out on his front lawn.

  • Edward Richtofen

    you missed the basement of the woman location.

  • Patrick Richardson

    Moscow seems an appropriate name for a town that after three different local encounters not one place offered succor to a young man wondering around dazed and confused in the freezing cold. Don’t give me that crap they felt threatened, at no time does this article indicate he was aggressive. Just a bunch of thoughtless,compassionless people living in fear, like the resident of Moscow,Russia used to except there they feared the government,here it was a fear of being inconvenienced.

  • Biteme

    Bet he wouldnt of died if he was high on weed insteed of alcohol

  • Why did people let a 12 year old get wasted at a frat party?

  • Abroad

    Maybe everybody else who saw him knew how ornery he is…… All the neighbours may be cursing your husband as we speak. But well done, from halfways across the globe!

  • Abroad

    And I’d say the fear of the government was well funded in Moscow, Russia. I don’t think “inconvenience” should be compared to the keeping-one’s-head-down that was the sensible option there.

    That said, I doubt any single woman living alone would have let the guy in. You know too well how badly wrong it can go these days, and his confusion from hypothermia may have looked like something worse than plain drunk.

  • LeaveMeBe

    How goddamn sad. 🙁
    And thanks for the map, Morbid. That put a perspective to this that was a real punch to the gut.

  • LeaveMeBe

    Fuck you, Sam! I cannot believe I laughed at this. >:/

  • LeaveMeBe

    What’s a funion? Is that like a really witty bunion? 😛

  • LeaveMeBe

    Something similar happened to a friend of mines dad up in Wisconsin about 10 years ago. His friend dropped him off in his driveway late at night (there had been major snow for a few days previous and it was still freezing so snow was stacked everywhere) and he went around the back of the house to let himself in and his friend left. He was slobbering drunk (actually an alcoholic) and wandered around until he fell down in a snowbank and fell asleep/passed out and froze to death. That’s where they found him two days later. They could tell what he had done because of his tracks around the house. And they found his keys in his pants pocket. 🙁

  • LeaveMeBe

    Sure could have been prevented! Han Solo could’ve appeared and used the kid’s lightsaber to spilt open the belly of the taun-taun he was riding and shoved him inside to prevent hypothermia until help arrived. But this isn’t The Empire Strikes Back. 😛

  • Minerva

    Why not call the cops, even the frat could have anonymously (sure they didn’t bother bc they didn’t want cops around their house). A few months ago a man wearing a tshirt (it was like 40 degrees out) was wandering but then walked into the street without looking, then when my husband yelled at him he didn’t even respond. Then he started to stumble right into a main road into oncoming traffic, again like he was in his own world. He got out of the car, had the guy sit down and called the cops. Cops came, we left, guy not dead in the street. Why just turn someone away? Especially someone “threatening”.

  • LeaveMeBe

    Ahhhh. Got it. Hahahaha! 🙂

  • qcubed

    Sad and avoidable. While the fault is mainly his, his friends at that party, as well as the people who turned him away, share some responsibility for his death.

  • qcubed

    If you are freezing…you break a window and get inside.