Body of dead man in Basalt identified |

Body of dead man in Basalt identified

Scott Condon/The Aspen Times

The man found dead Monday in an irrigation ditch in Basalt was identified as Daniel Perez Mejia, 36, of Carbondale according to the Pitkin County Coroner’s Office and the Basalt Police Department.

Mejia worked at a restaurant in Aspen and was known to be riding a Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus home late Saturday night, Basalt Police Chief Greg Knott said. It is believed that co-workers were on the bus with him, he said.

Mejia’s body was found about a fifth of a mile and across Highway 82 from the downvalley-bound bus stop at Basalt. He was found face-up in the Williams 2 Ditch between Basalt Avenue and Big O Tires. Landscape workers found him in the ditch, which is lined with cottonwood trees, willows and grasses. Mejia was found at a siphon where the ditch goes under West Cody Lane and Highway 82.

Knott said police are trying to obtain video from a RFTA bus to try to determine if Mejia got off the bus in Basalt and if he was with anyone.

Knott said there was no visible trauma on Mejia’s body. Pitkin County Deputy Coroner Eric Hansen said no cause of death was established at Tuesday’s autopsy in Grand Junction. He attended the autopsy and said nothing was found on the body that led to any conclusions. Results of a toxicology test should be back in about three weeks, Hansen said.

Knott said the absence of any trauma to Mejia’s body should be reassuring to Basalt residents, though he didn’t rule out a crime.

“My suspicions are eased, but we still don’t know enough, so we have to be cautious” with the investigation, he said. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation is assisting with the case.

Mejia’s body was found face-up in the irrigation ditch by two workers for a landscape company who were working in a vacant lot east of Big O Tires on Monday morning. They reported the discovery to their boss, who called authorities at 7:38 a.m.

Police are trying to piece together what happened between early Sunday morning, when the bus arrived in the midvalley, and Monday morning. Some “personal belongings” of Mejia’s were found across West Cody Lane from the ditch, according to Knott. Those items helped authorities identify him. Anyone with information about the incident or Mejia’s bus ride may call the Basalt Police Department at 927-4316.

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