ME: Dever intoxicated, not wearing seatbelt during fatal rollover
Cochise County Sheriff Dever had a blood-alcohol level over the legal limit and wasn't wearing a seatbelt when he rolled over the pickup he was driving on a Northern Arizona dirt road Sept. 18, a medical examiner said Friday.
Dever had an alcohol level consistent with impairment at his time of death, according to preliminary medical examiner's reports released by the Coconino County Sheriff's Office on Friday afternoon.
Dever's family said through a press release from the Cochise County Sheriff's Office that they "expressed great sorrow at the findings," and that Dever "was still undoubtedly reeling from the stress and pressure" of the death of his mother four days prior to the crash that took his life.
The four-term lawman, 60, was killed Sept. 18 when the pickup truck he was driving rolled over on a dirt road near the Northern Arizona town of Williams. Dever was driving at 62 mph, earlier reports said.
The cause of death was multiple injuries and nature was accidental, the Coconino County Medical Examiner ruled.
Around 6:40 p.m., Dever — who was in the area on a family camping and hunting trip — was driving a 2008 Chevrolet pickup truck on a dirt Forest Service Road near White Horse Lake, according to a Coconino County Sheriff's Office spokesman.
Another vehicle was following Dever, but the driver lost sight of him for a brief period, CCSO's Gerry Blair said in a news release the day following the crash.
The driver of the second vehicle "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," Blair said.
Dever "lost control of his vehicle," which left the road, rolled over and came to rest on its wheels, Blair said.
Speaking to emergency dispatchers, the man said "he did not detect any signs of life from the single occupant of the vehicle."
Deputies and medical personnel determined Dever died on the scene, Blair said.
The longtime sheriff, a Republican, was running unopposed for what would have been his fifth term. His spot on the ballot will be filled by retired Cochise County Sheriff's Office commander Mark Dannels. Write-in candidates may register for the election until Sept. 27.
Chief Deputy Rodney Rothrock will run the office until November's election.
The sheriff was nationally known for his hardline stance on border enforcement and immigration issues.
Dever was first elected in 1996, after serving 20 years in the Sheriff's Office.
The St. David native is survived by his wife, Nancy, six sons, five daughters-in-law and 11 grandchildren.