Steamboat Springs Routt County Coroner Doug Allen's investigations of deaths have taken him to countless places across the county, from family residences to hospitals to the backcountry.
He has traveled on almost every means of transportation at the worst hour of the night on the snowiest night of the year.
Now, he's stepping down from his position.
"It took a lot for me to make this decision," said Allen, who has been the county's coroner since 1998 and has worked with the coroner's office since 1991.
After leaving the position at the end of July, Allen said he and plans to move to South Dakota with his wife.
Allen first became involved with the coroner's office through his work with emergency services. Even after being elected coroner, Allen has stayed involved in a range of county services, such as the Suicide and Crisis Intervention Lifeline, which he helped establish.
Other community members are quick to recognize his commitment to the county.
"Doug's leadership has really been remarkable," said Sue Birch, director of the Visiting Nurse Association and a member of the Suicide and Crisis Intervention group. "I hope that our community will be lucky enough to find such a community-minded, progressive coroner when it comes to grief, loss, death -- tragic matters of the heart -- because Doug really has done a remarkable job."
Allen received peace officer status in 1995, was elected to the board of directors of the Colorado Coroners Association in 1998, and has gone through state and national certifications as a death investigator. Recently, he worked with the governor's emergency response committee as a technical advisor.
Through all aspects of his work, which involves establishing the cause and manner of deaths, Allen said the most rewarding moments have come from helping families.
"I guess through all these years, the real thing that has kept me with it is the reward I've gotten from working with families," Allen said. "I've been able to help families through a time of crisis, and I think that's been the biggest reward for me."
One quality that the next county coroner will need to have, Allen said, is compassion for people.
"It definitely takes an element of compassion that a person has to be able to bring to the job to be able to do it effectively," he said.
Another quality is commitment. Because it's impossible to predict when a death will take place, Allen said the county's coroner has to be ready to respond to situations at any time of day, any day of the year.
The coroner is an elected county position, so no one will be voted in to the position until the next general election. For the interim period after Allen leaves on July 31, Routt County Commissioners will appoint a coroner.
County commissioners are just starting to advertise the position and will conduct interviews in the next few weeks, Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said.
The only qualifications a candidate technically has to have is being a registered voter and living in the county for a year. But Stahoviak said applicants should have more qualifications.
The coroner's salary is set by state statute, which designates $25,000 for the part-time position in Routt County.
"People say it's only a part-time job, but the coroner has to be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Stahoviak said. "I think the difficulty in filling a position like this is that the salary it pays makes it difficult."
And finding someone to replace Allen will be especially tough because of all he has contributed to the community, Stahoviak said.
The county announced Allen's resignation with "a great deal of sadness," Stahoviak said.
"Doug has really taken our coroner's office to a new level of professionalism," she said.