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College Student Riley Strain’s Cause of Death Revealed After Going Missing in Nashville

Riley Strain’s cause of death has been confirmed after the 22-year-old missing college student was found dead in Nashville.

Strain died from drowning and ethanol intoxication, according to an autopsy report obtained by TMZ on Tuesday, June 18. His manner of death was listed as accidental. The outlet reported also reported that docs stated Strain’s blood alcohol level was 0.228 percent when his body was examined, and there were “traces of THC” found as well. TMZ noted there was “no evidence of significant trauma to his body.”

News of Strain’s autopsy report comes two months after his mom, Michelle Whiteid, shared her son’s final text messages before he died.

“He had sent me a text and said he was drinking a rum and coke and it didn’t taste good,” she told NewsNation on April 16. “And I said, ‘Well, you probably shouldn’t drink it then.’ And he goes, ‘It tastes like barbecue,’ and I go, ‘Well, that sounds awful,’ and he said, ‘It sounds good, but it’s not.’”

Whiteid speculated: “Maybe there was something in it that shouldn’t have been.”

Strain was visiting Nashville with his University of Missouri fraternity, Delta Chi, for a spring formal before his disappearance. He was last seen on March 8 after leaving Luke Bryan’s restaurant Luke’s 32 Bridge Food + Drink. His friends reported him missing when he did not return to his hotel room.

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Related: Everything to Know About College Student Riley Strain’s Disappearance, Death

“The boys called him, and he said, ‘I’m walking back to my hotel,’” Strain’s stepfather, Chris Whiteid, told local news outlet WSMV on March 11. “They didn’t think anything about it.”

Strain’s mother, Whiteid, noted that his disappearance had been “so hard” on her, adding, “I just need to know where my son is.”

Luke Bryan Breaks His Silence After College Student Riley Strain s Death
Riley Strain. Metropolitan Nashville Police Department

Strain was asked to leave Luke’s 32 Bridge Food + Drink the night he went missing. In a March 15 statement, the restaurant and its owner, TC Restaurant Group, claimed that he was only served one alcoholic drink and two waters before exiting the establishment. Strain was later seen stumbling down the street and taking a wrong turn away from his hotel in video footage.

Amid the search, Strain’s mother tearfully emphasized in a Tuesday, March 19, press conference that the family was “focusing on bringing Riley home.”

She also shared that Strain’s friends were “heartbroken” over his disappearance. “He’s their best friend,” she explained. “We love these boys like our own. It’s just as hard on them as it is on us.”

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Police searched for Strain for two weeks before receiving a call on Friday morning from an employee at a company that adjoined the Cumberland River in West Nashville. The body discovered in the river was later identified as Strain. (Strain’s family held a a funeral in Missouri on March 29.)

“The body of Riley Strain was recovered from the Cumberland River in West Nashville this morning, approximately eight miles from downtown,” the Metro Nashville Police Department announced via X on March 22. “No foul play-related trauma was observed. An autopsy is pending.”

Police chief John Drake told reporters in a press conference that authorities “were really expecting” to find Strain’s body “soon” because their research indicated “with his height and weight, that he could have surfaced between 14 and 20 days” in the water — and Friday marked the 14th day since his disappearance. Drake also revealed that search teams had planned to focus that day on the area where Strain’s body was found, noting, “We were in the right spot, [it’s] just unfortunate.”

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