Authorities release autopsy results in 2 deaths
Authorities have determined the causes of death for two men who died in separate incidents in Nevada County earlier this year.
Steven Drews, 62, of Grass Valley, was found unresponsive and later declared dead on Feb. 26, after being found on the 100 block of McKnight Way. His death was initially classified as suspicious due to some blunt force trauma to the head, but authorities have determined that Drews died as a result of natural causes, according to sheriff’s Capt. Jeff Pettitt, a spokesperson with the Coroner’s Office.
William Charles Snyder, 46, from Tehachapi, was found dead on March 30 near the Fordyce Trail, close to his abandoned red Ford F-250 truck. He died due to methamphetamine intoxication and environmental exposure, according to a final autopsy released by the Coroner’s Office.
Snyder had been reported as missing for a week after his truck had been located, before he himself was found deceased near the Fordyce Trail. The cause of death was not obvious, so the Coroner’s Office contacted a forensic pathologist who analyzed toxicology reports that had been taken from the body.
A toxicology report analyzes a deceased person’s blood to look for traces of unusual substances, such as drugs, alcohol, or any other toxins that may have contributed to a death.
Analysis of these reports showed a noticeable amount of methamphetamine in Snyder’s system, which was determined to have contributed to his death, Pettitt said. Snyder’s body was found in the snow, which led investigators to also conclude that exposure played a role in his death.
Authorities won’t be able to determine whether Snyder died from a methamphetamine overdose, or whether the influence of the drug interfered with his judgment to the extent that he allowed himself to remain outside in unsafe conditions, Pettitt added.
“He was definitely exposed in that environment,” he added. “We believe that the methamphetamine had something to do with it, whether it caused him to become delirious or whatever, we don’t know,” he said.
Authorities also located some narcotics in a jacket near Snyder’s body, Pettitt added.
A hiker had originally spotted Snyder’s red truck near the Fordyce Trail, and search and rescue teams had scoured the area around the truck for several days before finding a body on March 30 that was confirmed to be Snyder, who had been reported as missing at that point.
It is not known why Snyder, who is from Tehachapi, was in the area, Pettitt said.
The Coroner’s Office declined to release any further details regarding the death of Drews, other than to confirm that no foul play or substance use was involved, and that his death was entirely due to natural causes.
Stephen Wyer is a staff writer with The Union. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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