A dead body was found in the R2 parking lot across from Yosemite Hall shortly after 2 p.m. on Friday. An investigation into the circumstances of death is ongoing. –Victoria Billings/Mustang Daily
A dead body was found in the R2 parking lot across from Yosemite Hall shortly after 2 p.m. on Friday. An investigation into the circumstances of death is ongoing. –Victoria Billings/Mustang Daily

Update: The body found in the vehicle has been identified as physics freshman Osvaldo Ponce. The gas in the vehicle was identified as hydrogen sulfide.  The gas is “colorless, flammable, extremely hazardous gas with a ‘rotten egg’ smell,” according to the Occupational Safety and and Health Administration (OSHA) website.

Exposure to high levels of hydrogen sulfide, also known as “swamp gas,” can result in death within a few breaths. The gas occurs naturally in crude petroleum, natural gas, hot springs and from the bacterial breakdown of human and animal wastes, according to the OSHA website.

Update: Authorities have identified the body as an 18-year-old male Cal Poly student, according to public affairs team leader Stacia Momburg. The student’s identity will not be released until the family has been notified.

The Hazardous Materials Team has made at least one pass through the car, but plan on doing a second. The body is still in the vehicle.

Original post

A dead body was found in a car in Cal Poly parking lot R2 Friday afternoon, leading to the closure of R2 and G2 parking lots, as well as Slack Street, which borders campus.

The University Police Department (UPD) was first notified after 2 p.m. that there was unresponsive person in a car with signs warning of “hazardous chemicals,” UPD chief Bill Watton said.

UPD sent an officer to investigate, and found a car with hand-made warning signs and a deceased person inside, Watton said. UPD then realized that the situation was serious and called for extra help, Watton said.

“We backed up from that point with the hazardous gases that may be present with the owner and the signs,” Watton said.

UPD then called in the San Luis Obispo Fire Department, County of San Luis Obispo Environmental Health Services and the San Luis Obispo County Hazardous Materials Team.

Watton said he does not have information at this point on whether the deceased was a student at Cal Poly, but UPD is still investigating. They are also looking into how a person died in the parking lot.

“We’re still investigating,” Watton said. “It does not appear that there was any foul play at this point.”

Currently, it could be several hours until the parking lot is cleared as safe, and until then, dozens of students wait to return home for spring break after finishing their finals.

Biological sciences freshman Cayla Clark arrived at the parking lot shortly before it was closed off to wait for her friend, who was giving her a ride home to Fresno. An officer approached her and told her to either get in her car and leave or stay on campus indefinitely, she said.

“They were like, ‘Get in your car or else you’re going to be trapped here for hours,’” Clark said.

But Clark, who didn’t have the keys to her friend’s car, said she had to move her suitcases to the sidewalk on the edge of the parking lot instead and wait until authorities cleared the area as safe.

Clark wasn’t the only one waiting. Biomedical engineering freshman Angelo Ciaraglia sat next to his duffel bag in an empty parking space several feet from UPD’s tape barrier.

Ciaraglia said he understood that the police were doing their job, but just wanted to get home — this was before the police released the information about the deceased person.

“I’m just kind of tired because I had two finals today,” Ciaraglia said. “It’s just kind of annoying.”

Join the Conversation

25 Comments

  1. Sooo theres a dead kid and you post quotes about kids who annoyed that they can’t go home just yet?

    1. My thoughts exactly…

      I feel really bad for this kid’s parents. He will never be coming home.

  2. The post covers the important information about the dead body, the location, and the known facts.

    The idea is that the Cal Poly kids obviously have no compassion whatsoever. Also, your grammar is wrong.

    1. They didn’t realize what had happened when they were interviewed. You’re taking it completely out of context.

  3. Sorry you’re so annoyed and tired Angelo. That is pretty selfish of someone to die on campus.

    1. “Ciaraglia said he understood that the police were doing their job, but just wanted to get home — this was before the police released the information about the deceased person.”

      He didn’t know someone was dead.

      1. Bad phrasing for the mustang daily…
        Kind of detracts from the seriousness of the article and makes him sound like a total dick.

        1. The Mustang Daily needs to stop “reporting” serious issues and leave that to real journalists.

      2. Still, it should be pretty obvious that something awful happened if police have blocked off two parking lots and part of Slack Street. Students that got accepted to such a great college should have more common sense than that and should think before they speak to the press. I’m sorry for the family and I feel awful that this poorly written article takes away from the seriousness of the incident.

        1. Not exactly. I could easily see it being for something stupid like an “unattended bag” that they’d act exactly the same.

  4. I think it’s worth noting that that quote was “before the police released the information about the deceased person.” I’d be kind of annoyed if I wanted to go home and the police had told me I couldn’t without any reason. I’m sure he feels terrible now that he knows it was because a fellow student died.

  5. As a mother of a Cal Poly student I just want to send my condolences to the family of this young man. It’s very sad.

  6. I’m not going to post exact instructions but lets just say this stuff can be made fairly easily with common household cleaners…

    Sadly if there is a will there is a way 🙁

  7. Still, it should be pretty obvious that something awful happened if police have blocked off two parking lots and part of Slack Street. Students that got accepted to such a great college should have more common sense than that and should think before they speak to the press. I’m sorry for the family and I feel awful that this poorly written article takes away from the seriousness of the incident.

  8. I know its a tragedy and all but let’s not vilify students that have worked their asses off for the last 11 weeks, had to stay on campus until Friday, then after all the time waiting to go home to family and friends they are stuck on campus for an indefinite amount of time.

    Remember, these students just took 3-6 hours of tests, after studying for them the last 2 weeks, and then were put in a situation where they didn’t know when they could go home for their short 9 day break.

    Imagine your stuck in terrible traffic. If you are asked how you feel, you will say you are annoyed, not that you are concerned about the safety of an unknown driver that may or may not be hurt or dead miles down the road. On top of that, later that day if you find out somebody died it won’t change your opinion all that much, you will still be annoyed at being stuck in 2+ hours of traffic.

    I’m sorry this kid died, I feel bad for all the friends and family members. I hope the mystery surrounding the manner of their death is solved and public safety is ensured.

    The mustang daily never should have asked the students these questions, and really shouldn’t of published them, In her defense though, she probably rushed it on here to get us news as soon as possible.

    1. In her defense? Really? You’re defending her for choosing to include quotes from uninformed students in her story?

      If this online paper is really powered by WordPress, doesn’t that mean she or anyone at MD can go back and edit out the offensive bits of the original article?

      If she was rushing to get us news, then that’s one thing. But to take information from someone who is known to be uninformed about the situation and then use that in a story is irresponsible as a journalist.

  9. Even if the students didn’t fully understand the situation(which was obviously serious, you know, based on the multiple emergency vehicles present), by the time the Mustang Daily published this it was known that someone was deceased. I find it completely irresponsible and offensive that the Mustang Daily wouldn’t even think twice about the student or his family before posting this. I’m honestly embarrassed and in disbelief that this is still up. You know his family can read this right?

  10. It was a bad choice on mustang daily’s part in publishing this article, but I would not be so hard on the author. Clearly she made a mistake and is, I assume, well aware of it by now.

    My condolences to the family of Osvaldo Ponce and may he rest in peace.

  11. MD please take off the inconsiderate quote. I know at a time the situation was unknown, but the situation is now clear and the quote is disturbing. What kind of sociopath updated this article?

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