Coroner’s report: Men killed in I-70 crash were intoxicated

Staff Report

The two Parachute men killed Monday in a single-car rollover on Interstate 70 near Rifle were drunk and had used drugs other than alcohol, tests showed.

Garfield County Coroner Robert Glassmire said in an email Tuesday evening that driver Russell Lashus, 48, died of blunt force head trauma.

His blood-alcohol content was .226, nearly three times the level at which a person is considered drunk under the law, Glassmire’s email said.

Lashus also tested positive for methamphetamine and benzodiazepines.

His passenger and brother-in-law, Branden Jowell, 42, also died of blunt force head injuries. His blood-alcohol content was also .226, and a drug screen was positive for THC, the coroner said.

Lashus was driving a 1997 Pontiac Sunfire east on I-70 when the car ran off the left side of the interstate near mile marker 87, said Nate Reid, a Colorado State Patrol trooper. Lashus lost control of the vehicle in the center median, and the car rolled twice.

Eastbound I-70 was closed for about four hours after the wreck.

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