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Report: Cochise sheriff 'legally drunk' in fatal crash

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FLAGSTAFF, AZ (CBS5/AP) -

Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever was legally drunk when he lost control of his pickup truck and died in September, according to an autopsy report released Monday.

The report showed Dever's blood-alcohol level at 0.29 percent, more than three times the state's legal limit of 0.08 percent.

The Coconino County Sheriff's Office said preliminary toxicology results received Friday indicated that Dever had enough alcohol in his bloodstream to be considered impaired, but the exact content wasn't released.

"In light of the recent findings concerning the tragic death of Sheriff Larry Dever, the Cochise County Sheriff's Office and I want to make clear that the integrity of the department is unwavering," Chief Deputy Rod Rothrock said in the wake of the findings. "These findings come as a shock for many and myself, as I have known Larry Dever for 30 years and during that time I never knew him to be anything other than a strong and caring leader of Cochise County."

Rothrock said it's important to note the dedication and service that Dever gave to Cochise County. "We, as an organization will continue to hold ourselves and our staff to the highest standard of conduct and to provide the utmost professional service to the citizens of this county," he said.

Dever was on his way to meet family members for a camping and hunting trip near Williams on Sept. 18 when his pickup rolled. He had been traveling at 62 mph along a gravel forest road that doesn't have a speed limit.

An investigative report also showed his seat belt was unbuckled and that Dever had liquor and beer in his vehicle, noting some unopened containers.

The vehicle veered off the side of Forest Service Road 109, rolled over and crashed into a rock embankment.

The U.S. Forest Service road he had been driving on near Williams has no speed limit. Under state law, motorists are to drive at a speed that's reasonable and prudent on Forest Service roads without posted limits.

The Cochise County Sheriff's Office released this statement on Friday in the wake of the toxicology report:

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

"The Dever family expressed great sorrow at the findings, indicating that with the recent events in Sheriff Dever's personal life to include the death of his mother, Annie May, four days prior to the accident, the sheriff was still undoubtedly reeling from the stress and pressure of the events at hand.

"The Dever family advised that they remain so grateful for the overwhelming support and outpouring of love from Cochise County and across the nation, and they pray this report does not diminish the respect and admiration that so many have for such a great man.

"Our thoughts and prayers have been, and will continue to be, with the Dever Family, the Sheriff's Office Family, and those who knew the true measure of a man that was embodied by Sheriff Larry A. Dever."

Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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