Autopsy: Basalt river victim drowned
June 15, 2011
BASALT – The Basalt Police Department on Tuesday identified the victim recovered from the Roaring Fork River on Sunday as Thomas Vermilyea.
An autopsy on Vermilyea, 62, showed that he died from drowning, according to Basalt Police Chief Roderick O’Connor. Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis said in a press release that the manner of death is undetermined since no one saw Vermilyea enter the river.
Bettis declined comment Monday when asked if foul play was possible. She didn’t return repeated telephone calls Tuesday for elaboration after the autopsy.
The police department is still seeking assistance in the investigation of Vermilyea’s death.
The man was spotted unconscious and floating in the Roaring Fork River upstream of the 7-Eleven Store in Basalt about 4:40 p.m. Sunday. Swiftwater rescue teams from the Basalt and Carbondale fire departments recovered the body recovered 3 miles downstream. Vermilyea could not be revived.
Vermilyea was dressed in street clothes and wasn’t wearing a life preserver, so authorities don’t believe he was rafting or kayaking. “We don’t know where he went into the river,” O’Connor said.
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The police department asks anyone who saw Vermilyea on Sunday to call 927-4316.
Vermilyea was apparently living out of his van in the Basalt area, according to O’Connor. He asked anyone who has other information about Vermilyea’s living situation to call the police department.
Proper identification of the victim proved difficult. The coroner’s office originally sent out a press release Tuesday identifying the victim as Thomas Dermilyea but later sent a correction verifying that the last name was Vermilyea.