Coroner: Campers died from carbon monoxide poisoning | AspenTimes.com

Coroner: Campers died from carbon monoxide poisoning

Carbon monoxide produced by a camp stove inside a tent is what killed a father and son found dead near West Maroon Pass earlier this month, the Pitkin County coroner said late Monday.

Toxicology reports from autopsies of Jeffrey Beard, 41, and Cameron Beard, 14, confirmed the cause of death, Steve Ayers said.

The Pitkin County Sheriff's Office initially said the cause of death was a lightning strike. Ayers said Monday that lightning woke Beard's daughter, who was sleeping in a separate tent with her younger brother the night of July 16.

The girl, 12, checked on her father and brother, found them dead and assumed it was from the lightning, he said. She then kept her 7-year-old brother calm all night before seeking help from nearby campers at daybreak.

"She did the most heroic thing," Ayers said. "She kept her brother safe at night during the lightning and got him out safely in the morning."

The girl and her brother were checked out later at Aspen Valley Hospital and released, Ayers said.

Jeffrey Beard did have burns on his shoulder and face, though that was from somehow getting too close to the stove, which at some point tipped over and went out before causing a fire, Ayers said. The tent was a fully enclosed structure, which likely helped the carbon monoxide to build up, he said.

"Anything that combusts produces carbon monoxide," he said. "The bottom line was that it was an enclosed space."

Beard's wife, Camille, has declined to speak with The Times.

jauslander@aspentimes.com