Records request reveals that a Keystone resident died of hypothermia in January following party
Jarrod Russell, 34, was supposedly found by hikers on Jan. 9 near the Dillon Nature Reserve after a night of drinking
Keystone resident Jarrod Russell, 34, died of hypothermia in January after he tried to walk home from a party in the dark, according to Dillon Police Department records.
On Sunday, Jan. 9, authorities were dispatched near the Dillon Nature Preserve on High Meadow Drive around 10:40 a.m. Hikers had been using one of the trails nearby when they noticed a shoe on the side of the trail. Russell’s body was located nearby. He was found without a shirt on and with only one shoe on his right foot, along with shallow cut marks on his back and on his left arm. No other signs of trauma were found.
Police records state that authorities tracked Russell’s path north from High Meadow Drive about 735 feet and then approximately 300 feet toward the southwest where he crossed a barbed wire fence, which they attribute to his minor cuts. Russell was found on a north-facing slope which, due to terrain features, had not received any sun exposure that day. A light dusting of snow was found on Russell’s lower body, his right arm and his upper chest.
Russell was quickly identified using the Keystone employee lanyard found around his neck and through the Colorado Crime Information Center as well as the National Crime Information Center. Though he lived in Keystone, Russell is originally from the Huntsville, Alabama area.
Records from the investigation say that one of Russell’s friends from Steamboat Springs was hosting a party at a short-term rental in the Summerwood neighborhood the night before where roughly 20 people were in attendance. Multiple witnesses who attended the party said alcohol was involved. The location of the short-term rental was not included in the report. Witness statements from police records show Russell showed up to the party at around 10 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 8.
At around 1 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 9, Russell’s friend supposedly kicked most people out of the rental, citing a noise complaint filed by neighbors. Most of the party-goers left the rental but Russell supposedly stayed. Sometime before 2 a.m. he was asked to leave, and he was given his phone, snow pants and coat, police reports state.
At around 3 a.m., police say Russell spoke with a friend on the phone. At that time, the witness said Russell told them he was okay and that he could see his home.
Data from the National Weather Service says that on Jan. 9, the lowest temperature that day was 9 degrees below zero with a high of 32 degrees. That day accumulated about 1 inch of snow.
According to the police report, toxicology results show that Russell’s blood alcohol content was 0.218% at the time of his death.
The case was closed as an accidental, unattended death. No suspects were thought to be involved.
Both Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons and Dillon Police Chief Cale Osborn said cases like Russell’s don’t happen very often. In cases of extreme weather, FitzSimons said it’s not uncommon for Summit County Rescue Group to respond to these types of calls but Osborne went as far as to say these kinds of cases are abnormal.
“I would say that they are fairly rare considering the amount of people that are in our town and are in our county for that matter,” Osborn said. “They are fairly rare but they have happened over the years.”
FitzSimons said that those who choose to walk home in frigid temperatures, or even explore the county’s nightlife, should plan ahead before they consume any kind of substances. This includes securing a safe ride home or packing a bag of essentials to be kept in a vehicle.
“In weather like this, you should dress in layers, you should be well hydrated and fed and keep layers and blankets in your car, keep a flashlight, things you might need if your car broke down and you found yourself walking along the highway,” FitzSimons said.
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