Arizona Sheriff legally drunk in fatal crash

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Larry Dever, 60, the Cochise County sheriff, died in a one-vehicle wreck in northern Arizona with a blood alcohol level three times that of the legal limit.

The exact level of alcohol was specified after the autopsy at 0.291 percent. The legal limit in Arizona is 0.08 percent. The autopsy also revealed that Dever was driving without a seat belt and authorities reported that he had beer and liquor in his vehicle. However, a complete report has not yet been released by the office indicating the major factor in the crash. It is not yet clear whether the use of alcohol, high speed on a road with no speed limit, the road itself, or something else was the cause of the crash.

The Coconino County sheriff Bill Pribil and Dever’s family are hoping that the autopsy report won’t damage the legacy of Dever. He was always a polite and commendable man with a deep, calm voice and always stood out as a leader on border security. He was firm in his beliefs and always performed his duty well. Despite being passionate about his aims, he kept his emotions in check. He was brought up in the county, in the no-stoplight town of St. David. In spirit and mostly in fact, he always remained in rural Arizona with his trademark cowboy hat ever-present on his head.

The so-called “rural sheriff” Dever was sheriff for more than 15 years and news of his death came as a great shock for Cochise County. His death left political leaders scrambling to determine how to handle the next election: Dever, running for a fifth term, was unopposed.

“That is obviously the struggle and what everyone is trying to come to grips with. Larry made a tragic error in judgment, and unfortunately, he paid the ultimate price for that miscalculation in judgment,” Coconino County Sheriff Bill Pribil said.

Dever was driving alone on a dirt and gravel road near Williams, when his pickup rolled and stopped on a rock embankment. He crashed on the U.S. Forest Service road when he was on his way to meet family members for a camping and hunting trip at White Horse Lake. The police and investigators are still trying to determine the reason behind the crash. Pribil says it’s uncertain to determine when Dever began consuming alcohol. There was no indication of him being an alcoholic. The Cochise County Sheriff’s Office believes Dever was under great stress after his mother’s death which occurred only four days before Dever’s passing on Sept. 18.

The Cochise County Sheriff’s Office in a statement said, “It is with great sadness that circumstances surrounding the last few days of Larry Dever’s life culminated to this end.” However, the office declined to comment on Dever’s blood alcohol level, Monday.

Program specialist for the Arizona office of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kelly Dupps regards Dever’s death as a “needless tragedy”. The tragic accident took place when he was utterly distracted by emotions and alcohol.


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