Qwest executive dies in hunting accident
garfield county correspondent
NEW CASTLE ” A top executive for Qwest in Colorado died when he was shot while turkey hunting Saturday in the East Elk Creek area north of New Castle.
Jeffery Rando Garrett, 37, of Aurora, died of a gunshot wound to the upper right chest, according to preliminary results of an autopsy conducted Monday. The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office said the wound does not appear to have been self-inflicted.
Garrett was assistant vice president for Qwest in Colorado and a state lobbyist for the company.
“This just was a really terrible, terrible loss,” Qwest spokesman Michael Dunne said. “He was a very dedicated and really valuable leader for Qwest.”
A county Search and Rescue team found Garrett’s body at about 7 p.m. Saturday, after the Sheriff’s Office received a report of an overdue hunter in the East Elk Creek area.
Garrett was hunting with two friends during Colorado’s spring turkey hunting season. They arrived in the area at about 6:30 a.m. Saturday and split up, agreeing to meet back at the same location later in the morning.
When Garrett’s friends arrived as planned, Garrett didn’t show up.
“We’re fairly confident that they’re not suspects in the case,” county Sheriff Lou Vallario said.
While investigators aren’t ruling anyone out, Garrett’s friends were cooperative with authorities, consistent in their stories, and were able to account for much of their whereabouts Saturday, Vallario said. He said they went into New Castle at one point to run errands while they waited on Garrett, but contacted authorities when he still hadn’t returned.
Also, the bullet that killed Garrett apparently came from a different kind of gun than the ones his friends carried, Vallario said. He said only shotguns are allowed to be used during the spring turkey hunt.
Investigators also seized a .38-caliber gun from the friends as part of the investigation, but Garrett died from a smaller-caliber bullet, Vallario said.
Garrett also was carrying a 9mm gun in a holster, but it hadn’t been fired, Vallario said.
He said it could be that Garrett was calling turkeys and someone unintentionally shot in his direction. It also is possible a bullet that was shot upward came down and hit Garrett. The bullet struck Garrett in a downward trajectory, Vallario said.
The Sheriff’s Office is asking that anyone who was in the area of East Elk Creek Saturday morning, or otherwise can help in the case, call investigators at 945-0453.
Dunne said Qwest officials knew little about the circumstances behind Garrett’s death.
“We just heard about it over the weekend,” Dunne said. “Obviously we’re shocked and deeply saddened by it.”
Dunne said Garrett worked in the policy and law organization for Qwest in Colorado. He worked out of Qwest’s downtown Denver office and did a lot of lobbying work with state lawmakers.
“He was a familiar face at the Capitol,” Dunne said.
State Rep. Jack Taylor, R-Steamboat Springs, said he knew Garrett well.
“He was new and was doing a great job,” Taylor said. “He was really a nice, bright young guy and was doing a good job for Qwest.”
Taylor said he thought Garrett may have been in western Colorado in part to do some sort of presentation for Qwest.
Dunne said Garrett graduated from the University of Missouri and had worked for Qwest for probably 10 or 15 years. He said Garrett was married and had children. He called Garrett “a great friend” to many Qwest employees and former employees.
“The entire company, our thoughts and prayers go out to his family,” Dunne said.
Dunne said he didn’t know how much hunting Garrett did.
“He very much loved living in Colorado,” Dunne said.
Dunne said he believed funeral arrangements were still pending.
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