Hypothermia, drugs cited in Petaluma woman's Tahoe death

A Petaluma teen who was found dead Jan. 4 in South Lake Tahoe likely succumbed to hypothermia after she ingested large amounts of methamphetamine and other illegal drugs and wandered away from a music festival, authorities said Monday.

Alyssa Byrne, 19, disappeared after she attended a New Year's Eve concert at Lake Tahoe Community College. A utility worker discovered her body three days later about a half-mile away near a snowbank.

The El Dorado County Sheriff's Office released results of an autopsy Monday revealing that the Casa Grande High School grad probably froze to death.

The amount of methamphetamine found in Byrne's system was enough to be considered toxic and also contributed to her death, sheriff's Lt. Pete Van Arnum said Monday.

He said the drug "could have possibly killed her if she hadn't frozen to death first."

Kevin Byrne said Monday that he was "shocked" to learn his daughter had taken methamphetamine.

He said Alyssa had undergone a comprehensive drug screening in November after the teen revealed to her parents that she had been taking Adderall without a prescription. The drug, which contains a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, is commonly used to treat attention-deficit disorder.

He said no other drugs were found in her system at that time. Nor did doctors believe she needed Adderall to help her focus.

The results of the autopsy showed no evidence of alcohol in the teen's system at the time of her death.

However, she had ingested "multiple psychoactive drugs" in addition to the methamphetamine. Van Arnum did not identify those substances, which he said are illegal, at the request of Byrne's family.

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