A car accident that resulted in a fatality on Dec. 30 in Bayfield does not appear to be the cause of the victim's death, according to the Bayfield Marshal's Office.
"We cannot say the accident is the cause of death," Marshal Joe McIntyre said last week in regards to the death of Leon Newman, 52. "Was there stress from the accident? We don't know," he added.
Newman was rear-ended in his Honda Pilot by Michael Silvester of County Road 525. Silvester has been ticketed for careless driving.
When the accident occurred near the Eight Corners intersection on Bayfield Parkway, it originally looked like a typical fender bender, McIntyre said. Silvester was preparing to turn and didn't notice Newman had stopped in front of him, and he struck Newman's car.
There was no blunt-force trauma or head or neck injuries, McIntyre said.
Newman did have some whiplash injuries, but that can occur at slow speeds, the marshal added.
After the accident, he complained of pain, then went to Mercy Regional Medical Center before being transferred to Farmington. Newman died of a brain aneurysm at a hospital in Farmington.
The San Juan County coroner found the cause of death to be blunt-force trauma, McIntyre said, but that was based on an external exam, not an autopsy.
After Newman's body was returned to Colorado, McIntyre said he requested an autopsy by La Plata County Coroner Jann Smith as his department was investigating the collision.
Without medical evidence, McIntyre said he could not determine the crash caused Newman's death. Newman was found to have some blockage of his arteries and high blood pressure, which could have been contributing factors to an aneurysm, but McIntyre said it's hard to pinpoint that.
"It appeared to be an unfortunate set of events," the marshal said.
Newman was the father of two children, Creede and Irene Newman. He is also survived by his parents, the Rev. Jim and Louise Newman. Funeral services were held in January.