Report: Cochise County sheriff legally drunk in fatal crash

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) -- The blood-alcohol content of the Cochise County sheriff who died in a one-vehicle wreck in northern Arizona was more than three times the state's legal limit, an autopsy report shows.

Larry Dever was traveling alone on a dirt and gravel road near Williams last month when his pickup rolled, coming to rest on a rock embankment. Officials from the Coconino County Sheriff's Office had indicated Dever had alcohol in his system, but didn't specify the exact amount until Monday - 0.291 percent.

The legal limit in Arizona is 0.08 percent.

Dever's family and the Coconino County sheriff said they hoped the autopsy report wouldn't detract from Dever's legacy as a polite, admirable man who was firm in his beliefs and who stood out as a leader on border security.

"That is obviously the struggle and what everyone is trying to come to grips with," Coconino County Sheriff Bill Pribil said. "Larry made a tragic error in judgment, and unfortunately, he paid the ultimate price for that miscalculation in judgment."

The autopsy report also showed Dever's seatbelt wasn't buckled, and authorities noted he had beer and liquor in his vehicle.

Pribil said it's uncertain whether investigators will be able to determine when Dever began consuming alcohol or how long he'd been drinking. The office has not yet completed a report that would indicate whether alcohol, Dever's speed of 62 mph on a road with no speed limit, the road itself or something else was a major factor in the crash.

Dever was on his way to meet family members for a camping and hunting trip at White Horse Lake when he crashed on the U.S. Forest Service road.

The Cochise County Sheriff's Office declined to comment Monday on Dever's blood-alcohol level. But it released a statement last week from his family saying Dever undoubtedly was reeling from the stress of his mother's death, which occurred four days before Dever's Sept. 18 death.

"It is with great sadness that circumstances surrounding the last few days of Larry Dever's life culminated to this end," the statement said.

Kelly Dupps, program specialist for the Arizona office of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said driving while distracted by the effects of alcohol, emotions or technology never is safe. She called Dever's death and all others resulting from drunken driving a "needless tragedy."

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