On Monday, the Coconino County Office of the Medical Examiner released the results of Sheriff Larry Dever‘s autopsy. The four-term Cochise County sheriff was killed in a one-vehicle accident on September 18 while on his way to join his sons on a hunting trip near White Horse Lake.
The autopsy determined that Dever’s death was caused by multiple injuries and “the manner of death is (an) accident,” wrote Dr. A.L. Mosely. Dever’s cervical spine was “structurally intact,” as was the thyroid cartilage, no signs of hemorrhage “in the strap muscles or soft tissues of the neck.”
Numerous bruises as well as a dislocated left shoulder were noted in the report.
Of course, about a week ago, the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office reported that Dever was traveling at a speed of 62 mph at the time of the crash and was not wearing a seat belt.
The most shocking item in the autopsy report is Dever’s blood alcohol content (BAC), reported to be an astounding 0.291 percent.
Based on the results of a Virginia Tech study on the effects of alcohol consumption, in order to achieve a BAC of 0.291, Dever who weighed close to 175 pounds, would have needed to consume about 12 (12 0z.) beers or 12 (1.5 oz) shots of 80 proof liquor in a relatively short period of time.
Given the fact that Dever had been in law enforcement for 30 years and had worked numerous traffic accidents where alcohol had been a factor, the notion that this very highly respected sheriff sat behind the wheel of a vehicle downing drinks, one-behind the other, seems a bit implausible.
This reporter also spoke with a close associate and friend of Dever’s, who claimed on condition of anonymity that in all the years that the two had been friends, he had never seen the sheriff consume more`than two drinks in an evening.
According to a Coconino County Sheriff’s Office press release, an unidentified driver was actually following Sheriff Dever along a desolate stretch of Forest Service Road 109, but lost sight of his 4-wheel-drive 2008 Chevrolet pickup for a brief period.
Then, the driver “saw what appeared to be a cloud of dust, and as he came closer he learned that the vehicle had rolled over and was resting on its wheels.”
The witness told 911 operators: “he did not detect any signs of life from the single occupant of the vehicle.”
The crash occurred at 6:28 p.m. and Dever was declared dead at the scene at 7:26 p.m.
What questions remain unanswered?
The 2008 Chevy Silverado Dever was driving comes standard with front air bags which would have presumably deployed in a rollover crash such as the one Dever is said to have had. It is not known if the truck was equipped with side-impact or headliner air bags, as those are options on the Silverado.
The roof of the truck was not caved-in, nor was the cab heavily damaged, as evidenced by the pictures of the vehicle.
Aside from ‘multiple injuries,’ just what exactly did Dever die from?
One does not expire from multiple bruises, nor from a dislocated shoulder.
Also, the Silverado has a particularly loud seat belt chime.
So, did Dever make the nearly seven hour trip from his home in Cochise County to White Horse Lake listening to the chime the entire way?
Who was the witness?
The only information this reporter has been given by Coconino County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, Gerry Blair, was that he was “unrelated to Sheriff Dever” and “did not know him.”
Why not name this person who just happened to be close enough to Dever’s vehicle that night to see the sheriff’s “tail lights leave the road,” in “a cloud of dust?”
Then, there is Dever’s rather epic BAC…
Initial media reports of the accident claimed that officers found no evidence that alcohol had been a factor.
And, while it was reported that beer and liquor containers were found at the scene, those were unopened containers which were ejected from the cooler in the bed of Dever’s truck when it flipped over.
There was no mention of open containers inside the vehicle, and if Dever actually had a 0.291 BAC, the smell of alcohol would have been prevalent and easily recognizable by law enforcement officers and rescue personnel working the crash scene.
Of course, Sheriff Dever had made some very powerful enemies in recent years.
-In March 2011, Dever told Fox News that for two years, U.S. Border Patrol officials had been telling him they were ordered on multiple occasions to reduce and even stop apprehending illegal aliens crossing the U.S./Mexican border.
Sheriff Dever said that a Border Patrol supervisor informed him that the agency was ordered to keep the number of arrests down during specific reporting periods.
“The senior supervisor agent is telling me about how their mission is now to scare people back. He said, ‘I had to go back to my guys and tell them not to catch anybody, that their job is to chase people away. … They were not to catch anyone, arrest anyone. Their job was to set up posture, to intimidate people, to get them to go back,'” Dever said.
The following month, Dever told the Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security that the Border Patrol’s new policy of giving a warning to illegal crossers rather than taking them into custody, known as “Turn Back South” was not only being practiced near the border, but far north of it as well.
Dever reported: “It appears, according to numerous reports from current and former border agents, that this practice has gravitated many miles north of the border. That means that, regardless of proximity to the border, people who are detected but not caught are considered to be ‘Turned Back South.'”
The testimony was in direct conflict with the Obama administration’s public assertions on border security.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has been continuously telling us that the number of illegal aliens entering this country from Mexico has dropped substantially since Obama has become president, based on declining border apprehensions.
In February 2011, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced that during 2010, illegal alien apprehensions fell by 36 percent from the previous year…Dever’s revelation explains why.
-In September 2011, the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a warning to local law enforcement agencies throughout Arizona, informing them that they were being targeted by the powerful and violent Mexican drug cartels.
The DOJ’s 2011 Drug Market Analysis for Arizona stated the cartels “have begun to threaten local police officers to deter their enforcement activities. Violent criminal groups often referred to as border bandits, rip crews, or bajadores, operate along trafficking corridors in remote locations, preying upon law enforcement officers and smugglers who transit their territories.”
Having served four terms as sheriff of a county situated along the increasingly violent Mexican border, Dever’s deputies have undoubtedly had numerous run-ins with drug smugglers over the years.
Given Sheriff Dever’s outspoken nature and courage to speak truth to power, along with the obvious dangers facing law enforcement officers who work against the Mexican drug cartels, it is the humble opinion of this reporter that Dever’s death warrants further investigation.