News in Brief
PITKIN COUNTY ” Three people have died unexpectedly in the last several days, at least one of them because of complications believed by officials to be related to drug use, according to Pitkin County Coroner Steve Ayers.
Martha Jane Suits, 62, of Aspen, died Jan. 5 of an “intra-cerebral hemorrhage, or stroke,” Ayers said, quoting from the results of an autopsy performed after she died.
He said that reports that Suits had suffered a head injury that contributed to her death were unfounded and that “there was no obvious trauma, no evidence of trauma or abuse that contributed to her situation.”
He said Suits’ high blood pressure, coupled with the type and magnitude of the hemorrhage, were symptoms “consistent with cocaine use. We see a lot of that kind of thing around here.”
Suits reportedly was brought to the hospital in the early morning hours of Jan. 4 and kept alive artificially until she was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction on Jan. 5 for the autopsy. Further information from the pathologist who conducted Suits’ autopsy was not available by press time.
In an unrelated incident, Ayers said, a 54-year-old man collapsed sometime last weekend in Snowmass Village and died, apparently of a heart attack. Ayers, who did not work on the case and was unfamiliar with the details, was unable to say exactly when the man collapsed, and said his name could not be released pending notification of next of kin.
On the evening of Jan. 7, Ayers continued, Kip Strobel, 50, collapsed outside the Pitkin County Library in Aspen and died within an hour, despite attempts at resuscitation by the crew of the ambulance that rushed him to Aspen Valley Hospital.
According to Ayers, Strobel “apparently was known to be homeless in the area” and to have suffered from ailments that caused him to take 10 different medications. Ayers said Strobel also “was known to have a problem with alcohol,” although initial toxicology tests did not indicate that the man was inebriated at the time of his death.
Ayers said an autopsy is scheduled to determine the exact cause of Strobel’s death.
ASPEN ” Nine inches. The city of Aspen came that close to breaking the record for December snowfall.
The official snow total for the month, measured at the city’s water plant, was 63.14 inches. The record remains the 72 inches that fell in December 1983.
Last month’s precipitation did set a record, though. The moisture content of December’s precipitation ” a water measurement taken from melting the snow ” totaled 5.28 inches, eclipsing the 1983 mark of 4.87 inches. The average for the month is 1.88 inches.
On Aspen Mountain, last month’s snowfall also came close to a record, but was about 4 inches shy of the 102 inches recorded in December 1983. (Snowfall at Snowmass totaled 119 inches last month, which did beat the 1983 record of 117 inches.)
The high temperature in Aspen for December, according to the water department, was 49 degrees on Dec. 5. The lowest reading was 8 below zero on Dec. 15.
ASPEN ” The planned bus lane project from Buttermilk to the roundabout is over budget to a tune of $480,000.
The original estimate of $8 million to widen the stretch came from engineering reports, according to Assistant Aspen City Manager Randy Ready. But the lowest contractor bid at the Dec. 20 deadline was closer to $8.5 million, Ready said.
The project will go ahead as planned, Ready said, either with increased funding or a scaled down project.
Ready said a revised plan might mean less landscaping or not paving the Buttermilk parking lot.
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