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Autopsy Rules Olson Drowning Accidental

Alcohol and cocaine were in the system of the 20-year-old college student from Lafayette who fell in water from float party down the Sacramento River on Labor Day weekend.

Glenn County officials on Monday classified the drowning death of Brett Olson of Lafayette as accidental, and said that his system had a high level of alcohol and he had recently used cocaine.

Olson, 20, a student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo from Lafayette, went missing during a Labor Day weekend float down the Sacramento River from Beer Can Beach. A fisherman found his body a week later downstream on the river.

Olson's blood alcohol content was 0.28 percent, said Glenn County Undersheriff Rich Warren, according to a piece by the Chico Enterprise-Record. Alcohol levels can increase about 0.05 percent after death, the undersheriff said — even with that correction, his blood alcohol level was almost three times the legal driving limit. The sheriff's office received autopsy results Monday.

More than 1,000 people turned out for a memorial service for Olson Sept. 11 at Acalanes High School in Lafayette. In the days after Sept. 2, hundreds of friends and volunteers turned out to search the river and spread the word of "Bretty's" disappearance via social media.

Eliz October 03, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Good question. Brett's death is very very sad. Usually, the details are known to family and friends only. Noting his blood alcohol count might be shocking but it has been the common thread with many accidental deaths of our community's young people.
Crowley October 03, 2012 at 03:16 PM
I don't see anything insensitive in the story. It is a news site, and these types of details are reported in news stories all the time. There is no condemnation of his actions, just the facts of what happened. Many of us were curious as to what happened and whether anyone else was involved (e.g., maybe he got into a fight, etc.) It is still a tragic ending for a young man, and I am still sorry for his family.
Lori October 03, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Sad that the family's business was put out there, however, maybe something will click with some of our other youths and it will save some lives. RIP Brett. Deepest sympathy to family and friends. No worse pain than the loss of a child.
Adam Fortuna October 03, 2012 at 04:46 PM
I am a 52 yr old Lamorinda married father of three teenagers ... a "friend of a friend" of the family. I participated in a similar event at the Russian River a couple years during my college era; with the same peripheral behaivors and substances, we had a blast ... it's just tragic. My heart goes out to the parents. It could happen to any of us. He was a "good" kid. Is that Patch in the wrong for disclosing the details of the toxicology report ? If I could play the devil's advocate, if the patch had reported that he drowned and omitted the other unpleasant details, I bet there would be people commenting that it was incomplete shoddy reporting.
Eastofthehills October 03, 2012 at 04:58 PM
This story was covered on the news (TV) last night with the same details.
My Kids Dad October 03, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Hopefully others will learn that there are many risks to these behaviours and kids should be warned of the consequence. A couple of harmless beers and you're dead. but the thing kids need to learn while they are sober is that if you loose some of your senses and skills and get caught in a marginal situation, you might not have the capability to react and save yourself that you would if you had all your senses with you. Just like being out late at night (and especially after drinking) can have bad results. Condolences to the family! Lets hope some good comes from this tragedy.
DC / Lafayette October 03, 2012 at 05:13 PM
News and information brings clarity. This does not change how we feel about Brett; it helps us fill in missing pieces. You are loved Brett.
Bill October 03, 2012 at 05:44 PM
The details are ok. Our family is one that grieved deeply over this. With teens thay act like a little substance abuse never hurt anybody, this is very important to see and share. It could save lives. Thank you.
c5 October 03, 2012 at 06:17 PM
brett, rip. this is a real tragedy. as for the reporting, i for one do not see anything wrong with patch reporting publicly available information that is out there in a balanced and unbiased way.
Chris Nicholson October 03, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Apparently he was fired on Monday for what sounds like insubordination (JD's facebook page says he thinks AOL/Patch would say for "not following directions"). With all such things, the concise real answer is probably "it's complicated." Lance H, who seems to be a regional editor, is now the interim editor here.
Anita Harness October 03, 2012 at 07:10 PM
I agree. Just because the young man consumed alcohol and may have tried or experimented with cocaine doesn't really say anything about his character, nor does it say he deserved the tragic end that he met. He was only 20 years old. 20 year old make irrational (and sometimes poor) choices all the time. A few indiscretions at that age do not speak to his overall character. It's quite clear he was loved and adored by his family and he should be remembered for that part of his life. If anything, the alcohol and cocaine found in his system can serve as a reminder to parents that any kid - especially when around their friends - can engage in risky behavior and that parents need to work harder to remind their kids that risky can be fun but it can also end tragically. I didn't know this young man and don't know any of his family members. I don't think any less of him simply because he was doing things that many people his age do. I hope his family & friends can remember him for the wonderful young man it sounds like he was.
Ophelia OBrien October 03, 2012 at 08:05 PM
Wow. Just wow. My heart breaks for his parents. Good parents raising a good kid, who makes one mistake that ends his life. I can't imagine their pain. I have a 16 year old, who will be 17, then 18, then 19 and someday out from under my roof and my watchful eye. I know that for the majority of us parents we understand, "there but for the grace of God go I." Thus, we do not judge, we just mourn.
lamorinda mom October 03, 2012 at 10:58 PM
I think as a community, we are too quick to want to hide things that don't reflect well on us, a kind of collective hush up. The whole Lamorinda "bubble" that people sometimes talk about. We need our children to understand that an accidental death involving alcohol is a very real possibility and if another youth is saved by reading the sad details, publishing factual, pertinent information could benefit the community as a whole.
Bonnie MacNab October 04, 2012 at 01:31 AM
Brett Olson is an amazing individual. His character should not be in question. Nor should his family's honor. I've known Brett since he was 5 years old. He was my son's first friend in Lafayette. My two oldest are 22 and 20. They have done some really stupid things in their teens and early twenties, as did I. The thing that breaks my heart the most is that no one was there to help Brett when he needed it. My grandfather used to say, "You always dance with the one who brought you." Meaning, to me, never lose sight of your companions. The facts are the facts. He got carried away with the day's events. He overindulged. Unfortunately, no one noticed, no one cared at that time, and now those of us who really loved him are aching. My thoughts and love constantly go out to the entire extended Olson family and all Brett's friends who always felt like family when they around him.
Bonnie MacNab October 04, 2012 at 01:41 AM
were around him. Sorry. I couldn't see through my tears.
Scott Bowhay October 04, 2012 at 03:07 AM
Lamo Mom & Crowley, I am all for disclosure. I am not saying the sordid facts need to be hidden...but come on! Read the first three words of the story above...pure sensationalism! (For the scrolling-impaired, the first three words are "Alcohol and cocaine"). The byline is exploitive and insensitive. This being a community discussion (not the New York Times), a little sensitivity to the fact that those suffering live right here. Would one put "Alcohol and cocaine" as the leadoff points in a neighborhood newsletter?
CB October 04, 2012 at 04:30 AM
Bonnie I am so sorry. Your post touched a cord. He will never be forgotten for the boy everyone knew him to be. Take care.
Joseph Multicolor October 04, 2012 at 07:56 AM
Parch is an x rated blog. It should be presented as the back page of the rag newspaper it represents. This article is like the trash printed in the Enquire newspaper. JD should be ashamed to be an editor of this trash. Lafayette should ignore this as the Hollywood crap.
Deborah October 04, 2012 at 02:23 PM
JD is no longer the editor. (Please see comments near the top of the string.) There are many comments explaining the true heart of the situation - that Brett's character as a great person, who loved so deeply, and who is loved so deeply by so many, is not tarnished by the facts of his blood alcohol level. Many adults here commented that they did the same when they were young. They understand, and are not judging. Brett will always be loved, even though it stings to have the facts published in this manner....and maybe another young person will be saved one day, from reading why Brett died. (Maybe a small solace for the family.)
Julie VonHacht October 04, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Obiously the Patch will not be the same with out J.D. This paste and cut stuff I can do without. The core of the Patch seems to have gone with J.D.
Manny October 04, 2012 at 06:28 PM
The Patch is like an interactive National Enquirer in that SHOCKING headlines will attract eyeballs, then comments, which drives more eyeballs to the site, and we all read the ads and maybe buy the goods and services advertised here. Nobody is making any of us go to the Patch. If you think it's bogus ( and I personally feel like The Patch lost it's soul when it canned J.D. ) then dont read it and dont comment
Miles VanBuren October 04, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Bonnie, please do not point a finger at his friends and companions as you seem to be doing by saying they were not there for Brett. These kids do not deserve to carry any sense of guilt over this tragic accidental drowning. You admit he overindulged as probably his friends and companions did that day so to suggest they should have been watching out for him is ludicrous. I do not understand how you can comment on a saying by your grandfather that suggests someone ditching a date at a dance to a group of college kids partying on a river rafting trip. We all know there were only two to blame that day "alcohol & cocaine" and certainly not his friends! I never met Brett but I can only imagine from the outpouring of love for this kid that the last thing he would ever want is for his friends to feel any sense of guilt or responsibility for his actions.
TMoraga October 04, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Very Sad for sure many years ago I was Wildcat and did the river float. Many Bay Area parents would be shocked what their children do in Chico. I was only there for two years and paid my own way so my party action was pretty tempered by a very tight budget. Regardless the Chico river float AKA Beercan beach adventure shouldn't be done unless you have a solid group of friends all keeping close tabs on each other. Cocaine in the system and 20yrs old all I can say to that is plenty of kids do that event every year and stick to sierra nevada obviously others have the budget ie funding to take it up a few notches.
My Kids Dad October 04, 2012 at 10:09 PM
We are our brothers keeper! The lesson to be learned is when we do things to reduce our senses, it not only can impact our lives but those of our friends. This is a very important lesson for all involved to learn. These kids all need to keep each other sober and ready for an emergency. water is dangerous even when not under the influence of powerful drugs or alcohol. The well known person who asked if he was his brothers keeper - well you know the story. He had a very guilty conscience.
sigdot40 October 06, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Sad story either way. Hope the parents are looking into the "parents of the so called friends" who provided the budget and or alcohol or drugs. There should be some accountability. I know I would regardless of the age of my child.
Chris Nicholson October 06, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Are you serious? What a terrifying perspective you have on "accountability." How about PERSONAL accountability. Brett made bad choices (although the same ones that many of us repeatedly made without consequences) and paid the ultimate price. That, to me, feels like enough accountability. And you want his parents to sue his buddies' parents? Jesus. Only in America.
Lee October 07, 2012 at 07:08 AM
This is so sad.
sigdot40 October 08, 2012 at 03:58 AM
Typical liberal response from Chris Nicholson. Maybe you made those choices and good luck to you. Let's remember that's cocaine is illegal and he was underage. I guess its ok in Lafayette to party with kids. I have seen it and it makes me sick. Oh, let's send our son some booze for his college party...it goes on here more than ever. I would bet money that the so-called friend’s parents are dysfunctional and are drug or alcohol abusers. Wake up!
Chris Nicholson October 08, 2012 at 04:07 AM
SigSauerDot, you read me like a book. Good luck to you, especially if you have kids.
anna October 14, 2012 at 07:53 AM
very sad....I feel that the friends should have stayed together at an event like this.....we all know how we can get separated from a group at this type of event, I am sure they feel guilt and hopefully they will all stick close to each other from now on ....we cant go back just forward. I dont know how many times i have helped a stranger drunk outside a bar sittling on the ground throwing up with no friends around.....so, not only his friends ....anyone who sees someone that is like that should try to help if possible. To me it seems sad that noone saw anything even if he was drunk or high......it is just sad and senseless.......i know i lost a child myself....i cry everyday for him...noone knows how this feels until it happens to you....losing a child is horrible...i am sorry for his mother, who carried him, his father that had the high expectations of him and any brothers or sister that lost a best friend or someone they looked up to......please everyone look out for each other and do the best you can to protect one another........

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