Autopsy: Man died from drowning

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A Craig man who was found dead earlier this month died from asphyxiation due to drowning, according to results from an autopsy released Monday.

Authorities found the body of 20-year-old Johnathan Gill on Nov. 6, five days after he was reported missing, and recovered it a day later from a pond in the area of the Yampa River and Loudy-Simpson Park.

The autopsy, conducted in Denver, revealed that Gill had exhibited signs of hypothermia and exposure to cold weather on the morning of Nov. 1. Hypothermia occurs when body temperature drops below the level required for normal body function.

A toxicology report indicated that Gill had a minimal amount of alcohol in his system at the time of death.

The medical report also agrees with the Moffat County Sheriff's Office initial assertion that Gill's death was not a result of foul play.

"What it appears to be is a tragic accident," investigator K.C. Hume said.

He said none of the information acquired during an investigation pointed to the cause of death being anything other than accidental.

The autopsy results signal an end to the Gill probe, aside from investigators wrapping up a few "peripheral matters," Hume said.

Gill's cousin, Tommy Lee Barton, of Craig, was arrested in early November, and has been charged in Moffat County Court with criminal mischief, and tampering with a motor vehicle.

He allegedly damaged the truck driven by Gill on Halloween, a day before Gill was reported missing.

Barton, who is being represented by a public defender, is scheduled to appear in court at 2 p.m. today.

Investigators found several items of Gill's clothing -- shoes, jackets and a stocking cap -- before the body was located.

According to the Mayo Clinic, about 700 Americans die from hypothermia each year. It has been known to cause slurred speech, an abnormally slow breathing rate, fatigue and muddled thinking.

Funeral arrangements for Gill have not yet been finalized. A family friend said Monday that the tentative plan is to have the funeral Friday afternoon in Craig.

Gill's family established a memorial fund last week at Bank of the West, 139 E. Victory Way, in Craig. Donations will help pay for the funeral arrangements.

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