Aspen boater’s death ruled a drowning

John Colson
Aspen, CO Colorado

FLORIDA KEYS ” Florida state officials ruled Tuesday that Christopher Smith of Aspen drowned as a result of a boating accident last week.

Smith, a longtime resident of the Aspen area, was found floating in the waters off the Florida Keys on June 28, after he’d been missing for two days. Family and friends found the body after officials gave up the search.

According to Bobby Dube, public information officer for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, an autopsy on June 30 yielded no signs of trauma on the body.

In addition, he said, there were no signs of foul play on Smith’s boat, a Boston Whaler that was drifting with its engine idling on the morning of June 26 in an area not far from where Smith’s body turned up.

Smith, 57, reportedly had been out in the boat on June 25 and was due back at the marina that evening but never showed up.

Dube said the final autopsy results, including blood toxicology reports showing whether alcohol or drugs were present in Smith’s system, will not be available for some time, perhaps weeks.

There has been some puzzlement over the fact that official search-and-rescue efforts found nothing over a 48-hour period; the search was called off about noon Thursday, Florida time. The family found Smith three hours later in an area near a popular resort.

Dube said that often when boaters go overboard and drown, they sink to the bottom and stay there until gases build up in the body and force it back to the surface, a process that can take “a couple of days or more.”

Dube also said there was no indication as to why Smith went overboard, whether he hit his head or “passed out or something.”

He said the case is now officially closed, other than filing of the final autopsy results, as far as the state of Florida is concerned.

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