Toxicology reports pending for Steamboat man

Stephen Thomas, 21, died Sunday morning after party


— Preliminary autopsy results show that a Steamboat Springs man who died Sunday after a party in North Routt aspirated vomit into his lungs, which contributed to his death, according to the Routt County Coroner.

Stephen Thomas, 21, was pronounced dead of unknown causes early Sunday morning at Yampa Valley Medical Center. His cause of death will not be definitively established for another week, as toxicology results still are pending, Coroner Rob Ryg said Tuesday.

"We're not sure what he had in his system," Ryg said. "He definitely had some alcohol, but we're trying to figure out if it was an extreme amount, or if he had any drugs (in his system)."

Thomas, a graduate of Steamboat Springs High School, was remembered fondly by former co-workers Monday. The Tap House co-owner Melissa Baker said Thomas stopped working in the restaurant's kitchen about a year ago but was still a frequent visitor.

"He was really, really spirited, funny and compassionate to all of his co-workers," bartender Ashley Late said.

Routt County Sheriff's Office Investigator Ken Klinger said Thomas' mother lives locally, but he declined to release her name.

Just before midnight Saturday, an ambulance was requested at a residence in the Willow Creek Pass subdivision in North Routt County for a man who had passed out at a party.

Thomas was unconscious when an ambulance crew from the North Routt Fire Protection District arrived. He was pronounced dead upon arrival at YVMC.

The Routt County Sheriff's Office is interviewing witnesses who were present at the party, Klinger said Tuesday. Klinger declined to comment about whether drugs appeared to have been a factor in Thomas' death.

Ryg said the finding of stomach contents in Thomas' lungs were the only notable finding from the autopsy, which was conducted Tuesday morning.

Aspiration occurs when someone vomits while unconscious and is unable to clear their airway, Ryg said.


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