Although police are calling kinesiology freshman Morrey Brown’s death an “accidental drowning,” his roommates remain skeptical.
The official cause of the 18-year-old Brown’s death will not be released until later this week, but his roommates, Kristoph Becker, 24, a graduate of Middlebury College, and Trevor Dardik, 21, a professional athlete, are hesitant to call it a drowning.
“Morrey was a good athlete,” said Becker, who found Brown at the bottom of the Los Verdes Park housing development pool around 6:30 p.m. Thursday. “I don’t think it was a drowning.”
Becker said he and his roommates went for a swim after they played basketball Thursday afternoon. One by one, they left the gated pool area to ready themselves for a night out, but Brown stayed in the pool.
“Normally he would be with us. I thought it was really strange that he wanted to stay back,” Becker said of the shy, spiritual young man.
When Brown did not return after about 15 minutes, Becker went back to the pool area to check on him.
“As I approached the pool, I saw that it was very placid and still, which made me nervous,” he said. Upon closer inspection, he saw Brown at the bottom of the deep end, about 8 feet deep. “Part of me was hoping he was just holding his breath.”
Becker immediately jumped into the water to pull Brown out, and tried to revive him, he said. Dardik, who had CPR training and arrived at the scene a few minutes later, said that the young man did not have water in his lungs. He said they were filled with blood.
Becker, Dardik and the paramedics, who arrived on the scene shortly, were unable to revive Brown.
“He was a really nice guy, the type of guy who’s shy at first but really opens up,” Becker said, adding that Brown’s Bahá’¡ faith prohibited him from drinking alcohol and doing drugs.
“He was very spiritual and religious. He didn’t have a lot of friends at Cal Poly. He was in the process of making them during WOW.”
Those who knew Brown during his short stay in San Luis Obispo speak very fondly of him.
“Not only was he a complete gentleman, but he was good-looking, hard-working and intelligent,” business freshman Dana Hansen said. “I think the one question that those who knew him are asking is, ‘Why him?’”
Brown was on the Cal Poly track team and loved to listen to classical music, play the keyboard and sing, Becker and Dardik said.
“We were all very excited about him choosing Cal Poly and joining our track team,” said Terry Crawford, Cal Poly’s track and field director.
“Having him around has been an absolutely amazing experience for us,” Dardik said. “We would talk a lot about track. I told him that as an athlete you have to have an ultimate goal that you can achieve. He said that he was going to score 10,000 points in the decathlon.”
The young athlete was very close to his family, Dardik said.
“He would do four-way conversations with his parents and his brother,” Becker said. “I felt like he was my little brother. I’m an only child, so it was pretty cool to have the kid around.”
Brown’s autopsy will be conducted by the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department to determine the exact cause of death.