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Autopsy Scheduled for Teen Who Died at Tahoe

Should festival organizers have made sure people leaving the festival got on shuttle buses? Should they be held responsible for Alyssa's death?

Alyssa Byrne, the 19-year-old Petaluma woman who was found dead Friday alongside a road in South Lake Tahoe, might have been disoriented when she left the SnowGlobe Music Festival she attended and headed back to her room at the Horizon Casino Resort early New Year's Day, an El Dorado County Sheriff's Office lieutenant said Monday.

Byrne's body was found behind a snow bank off Pioneer Trail at about 8:30 a.m. Friday. An employee of the South Lake Tahoe Utility District spotted her body 10 feet off Pioneer Trail from on an elevated truck.

The Sacramento County coroner's office will conduct an autopsy Tuesday. The final results of the autopsy will likely be pending tests to determine if alcohol or drugs were in Byrne's system.

Drinking alcohol or not dressing warmly enough in cold weather lowers the body's core temperature, which, in turn, can cause fatal hypothermia. Symptoms of hypothermia include confusion or difficulty thinking and poor decision-making, disorientation, apathy and lack of concern for one's condition, according to mayoclinic.com.

The festival at Lake Tahoe Community College was held Dec. 29-31. Byrne and her friends were staying at the Horizon Casino Resort about four miles away in Stateline, Nev.

Posts on Facebook about Byrne's death admonish people not to blame the festival's organizers, urge festival attendees to keep track of their friends through a buddy system and call for personal responsibility.

Some posts, however, said festival security should have made sure people leaving the festival that night when temperatures were near zero degrees should have made sure they boarded shuttle buses back to the hotels in the area.

"We continue to keep Alyssa Byrne, her family and our friends in our thoughts in prayers during this difficult time," read a post Sunday on the SnowGlobe Music Festival's website.

"We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Alyssa Byrne," a post read on Friday.

"Our deepest sympathies go out to Alyssa's family and friends. We appreciate the quick response from South Lake Tahoe officials in response to the investigation."

Byrne was a standout athlete in her youth and at Casa Grande High School, from which she graduated in 2011. Many of her former teammates, now in college, were home on the holiday break when Byrne died and were able to attend a candlelight vigil held Friday night in Petaluma.

Amy Griggs, an official with the Novato Lacrosse Club, said Byrne played on the Petaluma High club lacrosse team with girls from several schools; high school girls lacrosse teams are not sanctioned by the California Interscholastic Federation.

"She was super athletic, jumping over opponents to pass or shoot goals was Alyssa's signature move," said Griggs, whose daughter played on Byrne's 2010-11 team. "She had unconventional form with a hard-to-block, side-arm shot. Cradling a lacrosse ball sideways in a girls stick with its narrow pocket is extremely challenging, which is why no one but Alyssa shot that way."

— Bay City News

Novato Patch's Brent Ainsworth contributed to this report.

Should festival organizers have made sure people leaving the festival got on shuttle buses? Should they be held responsible for Alyssa's death?

Concerned Citizen January 09, 2013 at 03:59 PM
This is a very unique set of circumstances. Normally I'd be very leery of holding 3rd parties responsible for a teen's unfortunate decisions. But in this case, where the kids or anyone would be exposed to a 5 mile walk in freezing temps, sober or not, really seems out of whack with the event holder's responsibilities to those who attended. My heart aches for the Alyssa's family, and there's nothing that they can do to replace her, but the Event Staff/Company who put the Snow Globe Festival together needs to accept responsibility for a part of this tragedy. Her so-called friends who let her leave by herself need to accept some responsibility. Whoever provided her alcohol needs to accept responsibility. And this event should not be allowed to continue until a process is put in place to insure that 1) people aren't walking for more than a few minutes in freezing temps. 2) No alcohol is served to minors 3) Security is monitoring alcohol consumption 4) Nobody is allowed to leave that is intoxicated that is under age.
Anthony January 09, 2013 at 05:48 PM
I disagree. I feel deeply for the Byrne family, and for Alyssa as I knew her personally. But people make their own choices and decisions. It is illegal to drink if your under 21. She clearly didn't care. Yes - the event WAS providing alcohol to minors (I know for a fact) and they should get in trouble for that, but her friends and anyone else is not liable for someone making their own decision, Sadly, this was a bad one.
Concerned Citizen January 09, 2013 at 06:29 PM
Anthony, I'm sorry to seem so hard core, but Alyssa had no friends at that event. Because if she did, she'd be alive today. Sober or not, no 19 y/o woman (or woman of any age) should be left alone, late at night, to walk 5 miles in freezing temps, in an area she is not familiar with. A single woman should not be left alone in a Parking Garage, let alone Lake Tahoe. That you equate that somehow death is the price you pay for drinking underage is sad. Someone has to be the voice of reason, the adult, the responsible adult at that. How lucky are we that no other under age kids being served alcohol died or was seriously injured that night. But I guess you NEVER drank any alcohol before you were 21...right?
Anthony January 09, 2013 at 06:38 PM
I agree her friends should not have left her. But she is 19, she is an adult. You need responsibility. I am not saying she wasn't responsible, but this was totally avoidable. And no, I have never consumed alcohol. I had an uncle die from alcohol poisoning when I was 8, had 2 friends die in an alcohol related accident when I was 12 and have had multiple friends die from drunk driving in high school. It's stupid so I never drank..
MICHAEL P WILSON "Independent Kid" January 10, 2013 at 04:13 AM
I agree we were all young and dumb at 19. As young men, we would never have left a drunk female From the group alone at anytime.
Mother January 17, 2013 at 04:45 PM
I am so sorry for the loss of the young lady and her family. PLEASE everyone make sure you go to these events with REAL FRIENDS that stay with you. Remember the buddy system. If Snowglobe was selling to minors, the event should be partially responsible to say the least and discontinued if they are breaking laws. Just all you young people that go to these kind of events, MAKE SURE YOU GO WITH REAL FRIENDS THAT STAY TOGETHER AND DON'T LEAVE YOU ALONE TO TAKE A SHUTTLE OR WALK IN A TOWN YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW IN WEATHER CONDITIONS YOU ARE NOT USED TO. My love and sympathy to the family.

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