I wrote in September about a grandmother and her child who saw two dead bodies in one day near Five Points. She suspected that both of the men had overdosed, and she wished she could have intervened.
Now we can tell you more about what happened to those men, based on reports released by the Denver Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. Both of the deceased appear to have been suffering the effects of long-term substance and mental-health issues.
Both deaths happened on Sept. 5, according to the autopsy documents that were matched by location and time.
The first, which happened at Curtis Park, has been ruled a suicide. The 50-year-old man was suffering from liver disease and end-stage kidney failure; he also tested positive for cocaine intoxication.
The man reportedly used a putty knife to remove a medical shunt that had been implanted in his right forearm for hemodialysis treatment of his kidney disease. He had tried four days earlier to do the same thing and had been released from a hospital, the report states.
Jeanette Vigil, the witness from our previous story, described it this way: “We thought maybe he was tired. We had no idea that he had just fallen over dead.”
The second body she saw that day was outside a Safeway on 20th Avenue, she said. This man was 40 years old and homeless, according to the autopsy report.
“He has a reported history of chronic ethanol [alcohol] and tobacco abuse, seizures associated with ethanol withdrawal in the past,” the document stated. The cause of death was complications of chronic ethanol abuse, with an abnormally large heart contributing.
Both men’s bodies have been claimed.
As of this week, the Office of the Medical Examiner had counted 106 deaths of homeless people. That’s likely an incomplete figure.
The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless counted 131 deaths on Denver’s streets in 2015.