Alcohol involved in student drowning

James Rigg (Photo courtesy of Sun Devil Athletics)

An ASU student who died Monday morning in a drowning accident on the Tempe campus might have consumed several drinks prior to the incident.

Police records state that James Rigg and Andrew Schneller, both 22, climbed a tree next to the Mona Plummer Aquatic Complex at about 1 a.m. in order to clear the large wall that surrounds the swimming center.

Several “no trespassing” signs are posted on the wall, which stands more than 10 feet in most locations.

Schneller, an ASU graduate, told authorities both had been swimming underwater in the complex’s high dive pool, according to a police report. When Schneller exited the water, he saw Rigg lying at the bottom.

The high dive pool – the deepest of the complex’s three pools – reaches a depth of 18 feet.

Schneller told police Rigg was underwater for “about two minutes” before he pulled his friend from the bottom and began performing CPR.

Police records state that when authorities arrived they could smell “a very strong odor of alcohol” on Schneller’s breath. The 22-year-old said he had two beers and three mixed drinks at several bars along Mill Avenue earlier that night.

He said Rigg had also consumed somewhere between four and six drinks during the evening, according to reports.

Police later located their car about a mile away near Ash Avenue and Third Street and found an empty bottle of Bacardi rum on the floorboard, records state.

ASU Police Cmdr. Jim Hardina said Schneller was arrested for trespassing and later released with a citation.

Rigg was transported to Tempe St. Luke’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead at about 3 a.m.

The county medical examiner’s office determined the cause of death to be an accidental drowning, but the case is still open.

Both Rigg and Schneller were former members of the ASU swim team.

Rigg, a transfer from the University of Wyoming, recorded a career-best time of 49.11 in the fly 100 at the Pac-10 championships. According to an old team roster Web page, the 22-year-old was majoring in electrical engineering. He was from Niwot, Colo.

Schneller, a teammate of Rigg during the 2009-10 season, graduated from Mesquite High School in Gilbert.