It's the kind of story that scares every parent: A promising college student dies while highly intoxicated in the cold.
Our hearts go out to the family of Neala Frye, 23, of Evansville, who was working two jobs while studying marketing at UW-La Crosse.
The young woman was found in a ditch Feb. 17 after leaving the Spillway Pub in Onalaska, where she had spent the previous evening at a promotional event for one of her employers, Body and Sol Tanning.
An autopsy last week determined Frye died of hypothermia secondary to intoxication. An initial test suggested her blood alcohol level was 0.21 percent, more than twice the legal limit to drive a vehicle.
UW-La Crosse has had more than its share of tragedies involving alcohol. A string of students over more than a decade have drown in one of the area's rivers while intoxicated late at night.
For years, talk of a possible serial killer persisted. But an FBI investigation pointed to a much more pervasive culprit: excessive drinking leading to accidental death.
UW-La Crosse isn't alone, of course. UW-Madison is notorious for heavy consumption of beer and booze. And a slew of well-meaning efforts on college campuses in Wisconsin haven't seemed to make more than a dent in dangerous drinking.
A big part of the problem are adults of all ages who continue to model irresponsible drinking habits at home and in the community. And Wisconsin's culture of alcohol exacts a heavy toll.
Alcohol abuse is linked to domestic violence and other crimes. It contributes to hundreds of drunken-driving deaths on state highways every year.
Moderate consumption of alcohol is fine. There's even some evidence of positive health benefits.
But Wisconsin's drinking problem is well document and extends far beyond its universities.
Frye's friends told the La Crosse Tribune she wasn't one to get drunk at an unfamiliar bar without her friends, especially while working. Some details of that night remain unclear. She was clearly a bright and talented student — which only makes her fate more chilling.
It could have been just about anyone's daughter, and Wisconsin's culture of alcohol shares in the blame.