22-year-old died of cold exposure after a night of drinking

A mix of alcohol and cold weather killed him.

A combination of alcohol and cold Minnesota weather killed a St. Cloud man whose body was found in a ditch last month, authorities confirmed Friday.

22-year-old Seth Taylor Juedes started the night of Dec. 5 drinking with friends. According to a release from the Benton County sheriff, Juedes was with his group at a St. Cloud bar until the wee hours, when he decided to split off on his own.

He befriended a group at a different bar, and when they eventually decided to go home, the sheriff's office says "Juedes refused the repeated offers ... for him to get back into their vehicle and instead, walked away from them."

That was the last time anyone saw him alive.

The next day, he was found dead in neighboring Benton County after his girlfriend made a worried phone call to authorities. The sheriff's department says medical examiners found the cause of death was "environmental cold exposure with ethanol intoxication as a significant condition." It's been ruled an accident.

Juedes's family hopes that others "will learn from this tragedy and consistently make good decisions," according to the release. His Facebook indicates he was a student at St. Cloud State University.

Deaths from exposure and alcohol

The Mayo Clinic lists alcohol as a major risk factor of hypothermia, which is a dangerous loss of body heat.

There's a couple reasons for this. One, Mayo says, alcohol "can make your body feel warm inside," while causing blood vessels to dilate – which in turn allows heat to escape the body more rapidly.

Secondly, booze can seriously affect your judgment and lead you to underestimate how cold the weather is. And "if a person is intoxicated and passes out in cold weather, he or she is likely to develop hypothermia," Mayo adds.

In 2015, the Star Tribune reported that 59 people had died of alcohol-related hypothermia over the previous six winters. That makes up about 36 percent of all the state's cold-exposure deaths in that time period.

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