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MEEKER I More than a week after she was last seen by family members, the body of Shirlee Coy, 77, of Meeker was found less than two miles from her home.
Coy was last seen Dec. 21 and family members reported her, her 2006 Toyota Tacoma pickup and her two dogs as missing.
According to Rio Blanco County undersheriff Mike Joos, Coy’s body was found by RBC Sheriff Si Woodruff and the victim’s son, Keith Fitzgibbons, shortly after 8 a.m. Dec. 29.
Joos said a BOLO (Be On the Look Out) was issued for the region west of the Continental Divide, Utah and Wyoming for Coy and her vehicle. County roads in the area were searched by deputies and volunteers on four-wheelers looking for signs of an accident and following tracks to the snow line. Coy’s family did not know why or where she had gone, making it difficult to know where to search.
“We contacted her credit card company and there were no transactions, and she didn’t have a cell phone,” Joos said. Coy and her vehicle were also entered into a national missing persons database.
On Wednesday, Dec. 28, Larin Crase, who lives on Flag Creek Road, saw a stray dog on his way home. He tried to get the dog to come to him but said “it would get close and bark then run to the ravine.” He didn’t want to trespass onto private property, so he let his dogs out of his vehicle to draw the stray to him.
“The dog had Meeker Veterinarian tags, so I brought it to the veterinarian, who told me the dog’s owner had been reported missing,” Crase said.
The search continued in the LO7 and the Flag Creek area on the ground and in the air, but there was no sign of the vehicle or of Coy.
Joos said some cows had gotten out earlier that week and ranch hands had repaired a broken fence, but did not investigate the cause of the damage.
Sheriff Woodruff and Keith Fitzgibbons set out on Dec. 29 for the area where the dog was found. Woodruff and Fitzgibbons drove west toward the Grand Hogback through a field, then looked back toward LO7 and Flag Creek. Woodruff saw what he thought was the front end of a vehicle upside-down in the ravine. Upon further investigation, the vehicle was identified as Coy’s truck.
The RBC Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation and determined Coy left her home at 5757 RBC Road 13 (Flag Creek Road) sometime on Dec. 21 during a snowstorm. Her truck veered off Flag Creek Road, went over the embankment and over the fence. Coy gained control of the vehicle and drove north along the fence line in search of a way to get back on the Flag Creek road.
Based on the investigation, Coy drove straight into the ravine. The truck rotated counter-clockwise, then rolled once end-over-end, landing on its top before sliding approximately 50 feet to the bottom of the ravine, 125 feet off the Flag Creek road.
Joos said Coy’s other dog was found alive with her in the truck. Coy’s body was taken to Grand Junction for an autopsy to determine the time and cause of death.
“Based on the information at the scene, she didn’t die of injuries suffered in the crash but died of exposure,” Joos said.