BOONE, N.C. -- Appalachian State University police say a student from Charlotte found dead in a creek on campus Saturday morning drowned accidentally.
In a statement released Sunday afternoon, ASU police confirmed accidental drowning as the cause of Tyler Blalock's death, saying it was consistent with the medical examiner's report. They believe Blalock slipped off the rocks at the edge of the creek and hit his head.
There are no signs of foul play.
A passerby in Durham Park reported finding Blalock in Kraut Creek in Durham Park, near the university's convocation center, just before 8 a.m. ASU police identified him Saturday afternoon.
Students who woke up Saturday ready for football were instead greeted by a grim email from the university about his death.
“It just turned everyone's eccentric mood into sadness,” said freshman Corey Miller of Maiden. “The reality still hasn't seemed to hit anybody… everybody’s still trying to absorb the fact that it happened.”
“it's sad and it's kind of confusing. I don't really understand how that happened,” echoed freshman Cera Allen of Harrisburg.
Blalock, who was a lifeguard during summers in Charlotte and had graduated from North Mecklenburg High School, was a sophomore at AppState studying sustainable development. His mother told NBC Charlotte Saturday that the major allowed Blalock to make a career from his love of the outdoors.
Saturday, Tyler Blalock’s mother Lynn said she couldn’t believe her son would have been out in the park alone. ASU police said they have no evidence anyone was with him.
Investigators haven’t yet determined if alcohol was involved, because toxicology tests will take a couple of weeks.
“Regardless of what happened, it's still going to have a negative effect on this week’s schoolwork,” said Miller. He said students will go back to class with Blalock’s death on their minds.
But he’s confident the AppState “family” will pull together.
“I think eventually everyone’s going to bounce back... and we’re going to be fine.”