A preliminary determination into the death last week of a 51-year-old Hailey man has found that Lance S. Buterbaugh died of “asphyxiation” caused by “accidental choking.”
The information was released Tuesday by the Hailey Police Department and the Blaine County Coroner’s Office.
“We’ve known that all along, or suspected it. We just don’t know the nature of the death,” said Coroner Russell Mikel.
However, Hailey Assistant Police Chief Dave Stellers said investigators have no evidence to suggest that Buterbaugh’s death was anything other than an accident.
Both Stellers and Mikel declined to provide additional information as to how Buterbaugh might have choked himself to death.
Stellers said the investigation is nearly complete but that police need a final autopsy report before a final determination can be made.
“We’ve known that all along, or suspected it. We just don’t know the nature of the death.”
Mikel said the final autopsy report, which would include toxicology analysis results, likely won’t be available for four to six weeks.
The Idaho Mountain Express has been unable to confirm a report in initial emergency-responder communications that there was a cord wrapped around Buterbaugh’s throat when his body was found.
Buterbaugh was found dead at his home at 5 East Bullion St., Apartment 1, in downtown Hailey on Wednesday, Nov. 14, about 5:30 p.m.
An autopsy was conducted Friday at the Coroner’s Office in Boise.
Hailey police Lt. Steve England, who is lead investigator on the case, said the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is reviewing police and autopsy evidence.
“We’re still comfortable that it was an accident,” England said. “We just want the prosecutor to review it and give it a blessing.”
Additional information was not available from the prosecutor’s office by press deadline Tuesday.
Terry Smith: firstname.lastname@example.org