PASCO — The family of a Tri-Cities teen who died from the cold at a construction site is remembering him for the joy he brought to their lives.
A family member told the Tri-Cities Herald they wanted the community to remember Manuel Rodriguez-Diodoro, affectionately called “Dudy,” for the kind, loving person that he was.
The Franklin County Coroner’s Office said Wednesday the autopsy showed the Pasco 16-year-old died from hypothermia after he’d been drinking alcohol.
He was found at the construction site over the weekend.
Investigators say Rodriguez, who was not dressed for the cold temperatures, was found Saturday, but he likely died Friday night. His family had contacted Pasco police Friday to report him missing.
Rodriguez-Diodoro lived his whole life in Pasco and was a student at Chiawana High School.
His family described him as a bright, kind soul whose innocence never left his eyes or contagious smile.
“He never stopped being the Dudy we all knew, no matter what age. We all thought he’d be the first to get into a good university or college, his love for math was what kept him going in school,” said a statement from the family.
He also loved walking all around Pasco.
“He didn’t even have a reason to, he just loved breathing in fresh air,” they said.
He was quick-witted and fast on his feet, his family said you could throw any equation at him and he knew the answer. He had a love of dominoes, chess and Sudoku that he got from his father.
He loved playing games, whether it was video games like “Killer Instinct” or “Super Mario,” or a game he made up with his family and neighbors.
Rodriguez also enjoyed a good prank.
And his family said he cared about animals as much as people, never leaving a room without petting the dog, and always looking out for his cousins by ensuring they were keeping good company.
“What sticks out (the most) is the countless memories and years we had with him. Now it’s time for his next journey, the soul never dies, and his is one of the brightest. God has a special place for people like Manuel. His heart was too good for this world … “
Wednesday’s autopsy results align with what the Pasco Police Department believe happened. Officials say Rodriguez-Diodoro was not dressed for the weather and likely lost consciousness because he had been drinking.
Temperatures were near freezing from Friday night into Saturday morning.
“The cause of death is hypothermia due to acute alcohol intoxication,” Franklin County Coroner Curtis McGary said. “We’re thinking it was about five to six hours from the time he was last seen alive until he was found.”
McGary said the autopsy indicates that Rodriguez-Diodoro lost consciousness while at the construction site.
He said that drinking outside is particularly dangerous in cold weather because a person can lose consciousness and not wake up when their body becomes hypothermic.