Missing Meeker woman found dead
December 30, 2011
The body of a Meeker woman was found inside an overturned vehicle Thursday morning at the bottom of a 40-foot ravine near Rio Blanco County Road 13.
Shirlee Coy, 77, of 5757 Rio Blanco County Road 13, was reported missing Dec. 23. She was last seen the afternoon of Dec. 21 driving her dark gray 2006 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck with her two dogs.
Rio Blanco County Undersheriff Michael Joos said search and rescue efforts began when the missing person report was filed Dec. 23.
Efforts included deputies driving in the area of Coy's home looking for signs of an accident, an aerial search by plane and a team of searchers on four wheelers, Joos said.
The search was called off at 8:04 a.m. Thursday when Rio Blanco County Sheriff Si Woodruff found Coy and her overturned vehicle at the base of what is known locally as L.O. 7 Mountain.
Coy was about a mile and a half east of her home.
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According to reports from Rio Blanco County Sheriff's Office investigators, Coy was driving northbound on Rio Blanco County Road 13 the night of Dec. 21 or 22 when she apparently lost control of her vehicle.
She went airborne, crashed through a fence and ended up in a field.
Investigators believe Coy continued to drive through the field along the fence line for another four tenths of a mile looking for a gate or another way to get back onto the public road.
"It was dark so we assume she didn't see the ravine coming," Joos said. "She literally drove straight into it, nose dived and went end over end."
It was a slow motion rollover and evidence collected at the scene leads investigators to believe Coy survived the accident, Joos said.
"She was not wearing her restraints and got tossed into the rear of the cab," Joos said. "One of her legs went out the open right, rear window and got trapped under the roof of the truck when it came to rest upside down."
Joos presumes the rear window was open so Coy's dogs could put their heads outside. He also believes it was long-term exposure to the elements that ultimately claimed Coy's life.
"It was a survivable crash except that she was trapped," Joos said. "It's all speculation at this point, and until we receive confirmation we're treating this as a fatal vehicle crash."
Coy's body was transferred to Mesa County where the sheriff's office's pathologist is located, Joos said.
An autopsy is currently under way to determine the cause of death.