Authorities say alcohol factor in sheriff's death

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) -- Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever had alcohol in his system when he lost control of his vehicle along a dirt and gravel road in northern Arizona and died, authorities said Friday.

Dever had enough alcohol in his bloodstream to be considered impaired, according to preliminary toxicology results. The Coconino County Sheriff's Office, which investigated the Sept. 18 crash, and the medical examiner's office declined to comment on Dever's exact blood-alcohol content.

Dever was on his way to meet family members for a camping and hunting trip at White Horse Lake near Williams when his pickup rolled. He had been traveling at 62 mph along a gravel forest road that doesn't have a speed limit.

An investigative report released earlier this week also showed his seat belt was unbuckled and that Dever had liquor and beer in his vehicle. It noted that some containers were unopened but didn't specify whether any were open.

A spokesman for the Coconino County Sheriff's Office said earlier this week that authorities had no indication of alcohol use.

Dever's family said in a statement released through the Cochise County Sheriff's Office that he undoubtedly was still reeling from stress and pressure in his personal life, including the death of his mother four days before the crash. They said they were saddened when told his blood-alcohol content was above the state's legal limit of 0.08.

"The Dever family advised that they remain so grateful for the overwhelming support and outpouring of love from Cochise County and across the nation, and they pray this report does not diminish the respect and admiration that so many have for such a great man," the sheriff's office said.

Dever first was elected sheriff in 1996 and had been running for a fifth term in November.

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