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RANGELY — An 18-year-old former Rangely resident died of an overdose last weekend after a night of heavy partying at a rural cabin between Rangely and Meeker.
Austin Stoner, who had been living most recently in Loma, was found unresponsive shortly after 10 last Sunday morning by friends who called for help.
“They told us they found him unresponsive, cold to the touch and not breathing,” said Sgt. Roy Kinney, an investigator with the Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Office in Rangely.
Emergency medical services personnel and sheriff’s deputies responded to the call.
“He was found to be beyond medical help,” Kinney said. “It is suspected consumption of alcohol along with prescription pills — we’ve been told morphine — were the cause of death. The area was littered with alcohol beverage containers and some drug paraphernalia. Preliminary reports are no indication of foul play.”
Authorities are awaiting results of toxicology tests. The prescription pills taken by Stoner may have been stolen.
“We’re not positive about that, but we have a report of stolen prescription drugs,” Kinney said.
Charges may be filed, pending completion of the investigation, which is being assisted by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
“That depends on if we can determine where the alcohol and the pills came from,” Kinney said. “We’re not looking at charging the kids for being out there drinking. Those are petty offenses. And you have to rely on the kids … to try to get them to tell you the truth. We’re really wanting the people who provided the alcohol and drugs. I want the people who caused his death.”
Nearly 20 youth are suspected of being at the party.
“Right now, we have 13 names, but there was a group of five kids who left prior to the others going to bed,” Kinney said. “We had a fight in town about an hour later, and those five were involved in the fight. So I’m suspecting at least more (youth were at the party).”
Kinney said most of the other partygoers have been forthcoming.
“They are being cooperative,” Kinney said. “So far, we’ve only had one holding back.”
According to reports about the party, Kinney said, “Austin supposedly had found on the Internet that the best high was to mix morphine and alcohol, and that’s where he got this idea. It’s supposed to be the best high ever, that’s what we’re being told.”
The cabin is owned by Doyle Berry, owner of Berry Bros., which has an office in Meeker and does work in the Piceance Basin, who was not aware of the party.
“He had no idea,” Kinney said. “The son (of a Berry Bros. employee had access to the property and) was telling all of the kids it was his dad’s.”
Kinney said if anyone has information about the party to call the sheriff’s office at 878-9620.