U of I students death gives peers' a wake up call

MOSCOW, ID - Joseph Wiederrick, 18, was first reported missing by his roommate around 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

The freshman apparently left a fraternity party on the University of Idaho campus, where he had been drinking. A search and rescue team found his body late Monday afternoon in a creek, and underneath a bridge north of Moscow.

"Well it's pretty tragic that he passed away," said U of I Student Brandon Latta. "He didn't have any buddies actually looking out for him."

"It's really sad," said U of I Student Courtney Owens. "I feel like it's an unnecessary thing."

Moscow Police confirmed that Wiederrick had been drinking on campus at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. Police also said that in the early morning hours of Sunday, he left the party and was knocking on home-owner doors in the area of North Mountain View Road, but police said that no one would let him in their house. However, It's still not clear if anyone alerted the police.

"It's unfortunate that they didn't have someone walk him home, or even let him stay the night at the house," said Latta.

Officials also said Wiederrick climbed a fence and walked around in a field before falling into Paradise Creek, which is where police found his body on Monday. U of I student Brandon Latta said that he wonders why Wiederrick's friends weren't keeping a closer eye on him.

"I was kind of devastated because I live in a fraternity, and we're actually all looking out for each other and it's unfortunate that he had no one supporting him there," said Latta.

Some students say Wiederrick's death is a wake up call, regardless of their personal drinking habits.

"I don't drink much, but it makes you think about what's important," said Owens. "And if you really want to take those risks."

But the news was less shocking to some.

"I mean, it happens," said U of I Student Joe Laidlow. "I wasn't that surprised. It was kind of weird how it happened so close to campus."

Wiederrick's death now raises the question of whether or not the college drinking culture will ever become less dangerous.

"A lot of students come up here, having the idea that they can drink all they want, and their grades suffer and the worst somebody dies," said Latta.

"It should be changed, but I don't think we can regulate that," said Laidlow. "I mean, that's just one of those college things. I don't think it's ever going to change. It's always had a problem and it's never going to be fixed."

The university released an e-mail saying that they will offer counseling services to any students who are affected by the loss. But they won't take any action on drinking behaviors on campus until an autopsy confirms that Wiederrick's death was indeed alcohol related.

Moscow Police said that Wiederrick's autopsy will be released in about three to four weeks.