Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs City Councilwoman Cari Hermacinski has drafted a condolence letter to the family of David Engle, including an apology from council for anything the city may have done to exacerbate the family's grief in the wake of Engle's smoke-inhalation death June 15 in an Old Town apartment.
Hermacinski felt comments made by a city planner June 16 and printed in Tuesday's Steamboat Today may have been insensitive, and Steamboat Springs Police Capt. Joel Rae confirmed Friday that Engle's dog, Luna, which also died in the fire, was taken from the scene in a body bag and placed in a Dumpster at the Steamboat Springs Animal Shelter.
The disposal upset some of Engle's friends and family.
"We didn't think it was appropriate," said Mariane Engle, David's mother. "But I wasn't terribly upset. It's real minor compared to everything else."
Mariane Engle said Luna has since been retrieved and cremated.
Rae said the Dumpster at the animal shelter commonly is used for the disposal of pets whose owners are not cremating or burying their animal, and also is used by the Colorado Division of Wildlife for the disposal of animals.
"Dumpsters are a procedure for disposing of animals, unfortunately," City Clerk Julie Jordan said. "We just don't have places to hold dogs in facilities."
Nonetheless, Rae said Luna's disposal was not handled properly and that the sensitive and emotional nature of the situation called for better communication between police and Engle's family and friends.
"It seems like there was miscommunication that took place," Rae said. "Having communication with the family is important in these cases. Obviously, this is a situation where it's very emotional."
Other City Council members are reviewing Hermacinski's draft letter.
-To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org