Pictures from Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever's fatal September 18 crash and published by a southern Arizona news site show open containers of liquor -- and Dever's lifeless body.
David Morgan, a semi-retired news blogger and political muckraker from Sierra Vista, says he published the picture of Dever's body on his site mainly to challenge southern Arizona bureaucrats he's fought with over public records and other issues. He also wants citizens in Sierra Vista and other Cochise County to think about their region's minimal coverage of news and the hijinks of local politicians.
"I really believe the community needs shaking up," says Morgan, 63. "It gets people to thinking about some matters."
He's caught flak for the article published on his Web site on Saturday, he says, but more people are now viewing his site, too.
Dever, a popular Republican sheriff who was first elected in 1996, died after his truck rolled on a quiet dirt road near Williams. On his way to a family hunting trip, he'd been blind drunk, with a BAC of .29, and was speeding in his county pickup without his seat belt on.
His ignominious death shocked many in Arizona. Dever, a Mormon, had lived for years in the small southern Arizona town of St. David. Some of those who knew Dever told New Times they'd never known him to take a drink.
New Times did talk to one credible source who said Dever was known to be a "jack" Mormon who regularly imbibed.
Mark Dannels, a retired Cochise County Sheriff's Office commander running for sheriff this November, says he'd worked with Dever for more than 28 years and had never seen him drink, in public or private. Dannels, in response to our questions, says he's never even heard a rumor that Dever ever showed up to work drunk.
Dannels says he has no tolerance for drunk drivers .He lost his mother to one when he was 13.
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"If I knew he was drinking and driving, I'd have been the first to go arrest him," he says.
The full truth about Dever, it seems, is yet to come out.
One of the pictures published by Morgan shows a half-empty bottle of peppermint schnapps in the truck's interior. Morgan says another picture shows a half-empty bottle of Jack Daniels whisky, while a police report Morgan also published confirms that two liquor bottles were found inside the truck.
A day after the crash, the Coconino County Sheriff's Office said a deputy who arrived at the scene on September 18 didn't notice any open containers of liquor inside the vehicle.