No answers yet in death of Steamboat woman found dead the morning after a car crash


— The autopsy conducted in Loveland Monday failed to produce a cause of death for Devan Renee Oates, 35, who was found dead in her Steamboat Springs home Oct. 25, the morning after she was involved in an automobile accident on South Lincoln Avenue.

“There was no evidence she died as a result of any injury (sustained) in the accident,” Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg said. “It was something else. We don’t know what until we do a,” toxicology test.

Those results aren’t likely to come for up to eight weeks.

Police believe Oates was under the influence of prescription drugs that had been prescribed to her when she turned in front of an oncoming vehicle at the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and Anglers Drive, causing the accident. Oates complained of chest pains at the scene, and she suffered a leg injury. Ryg told Steamboat Today on Oct. 25 that she sustained a concussion in the collision.

On Monday, Ryg said the autopsy did not indicate any head injuries.

“There was not a contusion that would lead to blood on the brain,” he said. “Her leg injury was superficial.”

The autopsy did rule out some other possible causes of death.

“It ruled out heart attack, it ruled out a stroke, an embolism or blood clots,” Ryg said.

The medical examiner also was unable to determine a time of death, according to Ryg, who did not attend the autopsy. Detectives from the Steamboat Springs Police Department were in attendance, however.

Oates was driving west on South Lincoln Avenue with her juvenile son in a Ford Explorer at 5 p.m. last Thursday when she turned left onto Anglers Drive and failed to yield to an oncoming minivan, according to Steamboat Police Sgt. John McCartin. Oates’ vehicle was struck broadside and rolled.

Firefighters had to extricate Oates from the Explorer. She was taken to Yampa Valley Medical Center where she submitted to a blood draw so that toxicology tests could be done, according to police. She was released from the hospital later on the night of the crash.

Oates’ son and a person traveling in the minivan were also taken to Yampa Valley Medical Center as a precaution.

The next morning, Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue firefighters were called at about 7:10 a.m. to Oates' home at the Hillside Village Apartments off Tamarack Drive where she was pronounced dead.

McCartin said Oates, who acknowledged to him that she had taken prescription drugs, was issued a summons to appear in court. She was suspected of driving under the influence of drugs, careless driving and not restraining her son in a car seat.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1


walt jones 3 years, 5 months ago

I bet the BOD at YVMC are breathing a sigh of relief that they don't seem to be liable for anything from the accident being cause of death.


Scott Wedel 3 years, 5 months ago


I doubt they are that cynical.

I'd guess most at YVMC would expect that an autopsy will show it was related to prescription drugs. Someone having troubles with prescription drugs is already at serious risk of death. And someone having a major event such as a car crash could easily end up taking a bit extra.

Tens of thousands of people without prescriptions die every year from prescription pain killers. Similarly, an additional huge number of people on prescription pain killers die from their prescriptions.


Bryan Rickman 3 years, 5 months ago

"As a member of this community for over 50 years, and as a former employee of YVMC, I must say that the people of Routt County are very lucky to have a hospital of this caliber here. While it is sad that someone died, I think wanting to blame the staff or the hospital is just wrong. I work with these people on a daily basis, and they all want the best for the patient."


mark hartless 3 years, 5 months ago

Bryan is, of course, exactly right. The people of Routt County are indeed fortunate to have a facility such as YVMC as well as it's staff.


rhys jones 3 years, 5 months ago

This is a tragic event, and if my earlier comments were insensitive or hurtful to anybody, I sincerely apologize, that was not my intention. Please accept my apology and condolences, as I grieve with you.


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