Wrong turn may have been fatal for SnowGlobe attendee
January 8, 2013
A 19-year-old Petaluma woman who was found dead last week after attending the SnowGlobe Music Festival may have been attempting to walk back to her hotel when she made a wrong turn on Pioneer Trail.Investigators believe Alyssa Byrne may have followed other concertgoers walking back to Stateline after missing a concert shuttle on New Year’s Eve, but became disoriented and turned right onto Pioneer Trail rather than left, according to a Monday article in Santa Rosa’s Press Democrat.After walking southwest along the road, Byrne climbed over a berm and walked about 100 yards in the snow before stopping, according to statements to the newspaper by El Dorado County Sheriff’s Lt. Pete Van Arnum. Van Arnum’s voicemail was full and not accepting messages Tuesday afternoon.South Tahoe Public Utility District workers found Byrne’s body Friday morning in a snowbank along Pioneer Trail between Al Tahoe Boulevard and Black Bart Avenue.Byrne’s boot prints were the only prints in the area and suggested disorientation due to alcohol consumption, hypothermia or both, Van Arnum told the Press Democrat. Byrne’s white ski jacket was found near her body, Van Arnum added.Victims of hypothermia are exposed to cold and/or wet conditions, resulting in below normal body temperatures. The condition affects a victim’s thinking and movement, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.“This makes hypothermia particularly dangerous because a person may not know it is happening and won’t be able to do anything about it,” according to the agency.“Paradoxical undressing,” where a person takes of clothes despite cold temperatures, has also been associated with cases of severe hypothermia.Byrne’s body does not show signs of outward trauma or foul play. Autopsy results are pending.Authorities have been unable to confirm accounts by Byrne’s friends that she had boarded a shuttle back to Stateline and was seen at Horizon Casino Resort, where she was staying, during the early morning hours of New Year’s Day. Authorities have not located Byrne in surveillance footage from the time she was reportedly seen at the casino.Byrne’s friend, Jay Donnellan, told the Press Democrat he was sure Byrne was on a shuttle from the concert when he talked to her on the phone shortly after 11 p.m. New Year’s Eve.Festival organizers have declined to provide any information on the incident or comment while the investigation is ongoing.The South Lake Tahoe City Council is expected to discuss this year’s festival concert at a future meeting.City Councilman Hal Cole called Byrne’s death “unfortunate” at the end of Tuesday’s meeting. Two council members said they thought the festival was successful, despite Byrne’s death.Councilwoman JoAnn Conner lauded South Lake Tahoe police and firefighters presence at the festival, saying they were open and accessible to attendees. Mayor Tom Davis called the festival “very well run,” noting that noise to surrounding neighborhoods was not the issue it was during last year’s inaugural event.The council has yet to schedule a more formal discussion of this year’s festival.