Alcohol contributed to Steamboat man’s drowning death, tests show |

Alcohol contributed to Steamboat man’s drowning death, tests show

John Noonan, seen here in 2008, died after falling into Soda Creek on June 15.

— A pathologist has determined that the man who died after falling into Soda Creek on June 15 drowned and that alcohol contributed to his death.

It is estimated that 58-year-old John Noonan's blood alcohol content was 0.345, Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg said. Ryg said he had received that information from Dr. Michael Burson, a pathologist with the Douglas County Coroner's Office, who assisted with determining the cause of death.

"It's an accident," Ryg said.

Noonan owned Storm King Surveying and Mapping in Steamboat Springs.

Ryg said it is thought that Noonan was either trying to get on or off his mountain bike when he fell into the creek at about 4:03 p.m. June 15 on 12th Street and Lincoln Avenue in downtown Steamboat at.

"He was either trying to get on his bike or unable to get off his bike, and he was unable to stand and fell into the creek," Ryg said.

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Noonan traveled under Lincoln and entered the Yampa River next to Bud Werner Memorial Library. Witnesses reported seeing Noonan in the water flailing his arms.

Rescuers pulled Noonan from the river about 4:50 p.m. at Sleepy Bear Mobile Home Park, about 2.5 miles from the library. He was taken to Yampa Valley Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 5:10 p.m.

Ryg had suspected that drowning was the cause of the death, but he wanted to have more tests done. The results of toxicology tests provided some answers.

Colorado law states that a person is presumed to be driving a vehicle — including a bicycle — under the influence if his or her blood alcohol content is 0.08 or higher. The Routt County Sheriff's Office will not admit a person into detox if his or her intoxication level is higher than 0.30. In that case, people are taken to Yampa Valley Medical Center.

Noonan's ex-wife, Gayle Lehman, lives in Steamboat, but she did not want to comment Tuesday. She said Noonan's family had written an obituary, which includes information about a memorial service. The obituary is expected to be published Sunday in the Steamboat Pilot & Today. Ryg said that the couple didn't have any children, and that Noonan didn't have any other family in town.

— To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email

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