Re: Hunter’s death

Dear Editor:

I appreciate The Aspen Times addressing our health care issues in the valley with both your front page article and your editorial in the June 17 issue. I would like to offer a different perspective, however, on the topic of Hunter’s death.

Just to be clear, the authority and responsibility for ordering a toxicology test on any decedent lies solely with the coroner. I consulted with the sheriff and explained my reasons, which Sheriff Braudis accepted and understood.

Hunter was a longtime friend and patient of mine, and an honorary deputy coroner as well. I knew his medical conditions and health status very well. I spoke to him only 48 hours prior to his death. He had no acute health status change or medication change that would have affected the decision he made. A drug test would have been fodder for the international press and would have told me nothing about the cause and manner of the death of Hunter. Even though self-inflicted gunshot wound victims rarely need an autopsy, a limited autopsy was performed on Hunter to clarify the details of the gunshot wound.

Again, I appreciate the Times addressing these issues and invite feedback, which can be mailed to me at: P.O. Box 12278; Aspen, CO 81612.

Dr. Steve Ayers

Pitkin County coroner