A woman found dead Saturday along Florida Road has been identified as a 40-year-old Forest Lakes resident, but authorities are at a loss about the circumstances of her death.
Around 7:15 a.m. Saturday, Durango Police Department responded to a report of an unattended death on the 1600 block of Florida Road (County Road 240), about a half-mile east of the Durango Sports Club.
The woman was identified as 40-year-old Melissa Bales, of Bayfield, who lived with her husband and son in the Forest Lakes subdivision, La Plata County’s largest subdivision 20 miles east of Durango.
La Plata County Coroner Jann Smith said Sunday that Bales was found about 10 to 15 feet off the side of the road, but authorities don’t believe a car hit her. Durango Police said Saturday they don’t suspect foul play.
“There was nothing at the scene that would give us a clue as to what was going on,” Smith said.
She said Bales was not carrying anything with her, such as a backpack or purse. She was wearing a down jacket, pants and shoes.
Durango Police said Saturday that Bales may have died from exposure.
Smith also said nobody, including Bales’ family, knows why she was in the area, about 18 miles from her home.
Smith said an autopsy to be conducted later this week may help piece together the circumstances of Bales’ death.
Calls to the Durango Police Department seeking more information were not immediately returned Sunday.
According to her LinkedIn account, Bales was the owner of Mac Works Consulting in Bayfield. She had previously worked for Chimera Communications, Basin Printing & Imaging and the Durango Chamber of Commerce.
“She was great,” Jeff Hammond, owner of Basin Printing, said Sunday. “She was well-known around here.”
Hammond said Bales had lived in the Durango-Bayfield area for a while. She was Basin Printing’s prepress supervisor before she left to have a family and freelance for Chimera Communications, he said.
“It’s just really tragic,” Hammond said.