Autopsy: Roaring Fork River victim died from drowning |

Autopsy: Roaring Fork River victim died from drowning

The victim who was recovered from the Roaring Fork River Sunday was identified Tuesday as Thomas Vermilyea by the Basalt Police Department.

An autopsy on Vermilyea, 62, showed that he died from drowning, according to Basalt Police Chief Roderick O’Connor. Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis said in a press release that the manner of death is undetermined since no one saw Vermilyea enter the river.

Bettis declined comment Monday when asked if foul play was possible. She didn’t return repeated telephone calls Tuesday for elaboration after the autopsy.

The police department is still seeking assistance in the investigation of Vermilyea’s death.

The man was spotted unconscious and floating in the Roaring Fork River upstream of the 7-Eleven Store in Basalt at about 4:40 p.m. Sunday. His body was recovered 3 miles downstream by the swift water rescue teams of the Basalt and Carbondale fire departments. Vermilyea couldn’t be revived.

Vermilyea was dressed in street clothes and wasn’t wearing a life preserver, so authorities don’t believe he was rafting or kayaking. “We don’t know where he went into the river,” O’Connor said.

Anyone who saw Vermilyea on Sunday is asked to call the police department at 927-4316.

Vermilyea was apparently living out of his van in the Basalt area, according to O’Connor. He asked anyone who has other information about Vermilyea’s living situation to call the police department.

Properly identifying the victim proved difficult. The coroner’s office originally sent out a press release Tuesday identifying the victim as Thomas Dermilyea but later sent a correction verifying the last name was Vermilyea.

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