An autopsy done Tuesday on a Durango man found dead last week on Smelter Mountain has not helped authorities piece together the circumstances of his death, according to La Plata County Coroner Jann Smith.
David Mondragon, 31, was found dead Friday on Smelter Mountain after it appeared his car went off a mountainside. He was reported missing by family members last month after last being seen leaving Steamworks Brewing Co. around 9 p.m. April 10.
The question for authorities is when did Mondragon’s car go off Smelter Mountain, and why, Smith said. He was driving a silver 1998 Toyota 4Runner.
Authorities have ruled out foul-play and suicide, and it appears the car going off the mountain was accidental, Smith said. Now, investigators are awaiting the results of a toxicology report, which could take a couple weeks, to see if drugs or alcohol played a part in the incident.
“We think it was an accident – that he was screwing around (driving on Smelter Mountain) and went off the hill,” Smith said.
Smith believes the crash and Mondragon’s death happened a few days before the body was discovered Friday.
Investigators with the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office, however, believe Mondragon had been dead on Smelter for “quite a while,” possibly soon after he first went missing around April 10.
“We don’t have the exact date,” said Luke Herrington, lead investigator on the case. “But we know the day he was last seen, and we know he had been (dead on Smelter Mountain) for a while.”
Smith said a pathology report to be conducted will help pin down how long Mondragon had been dead before being discovered.
Herrington also provided updated information about Mondragon’s death since it was first reported Monday. He said the car was found 100 yards down the hill, and Mondragon’s body was not inside the vehicle – it had been ejected.
Herrington said the case remains under investigation as authorities sift through cellphone records and other evidence to piece together a better timeline of Mondragon’s final days.
The search for Mondragon started earlier this month as family members attempted to locate him.
On Friday, hikers spotted a few items on top of Smelter Mountain and notified police who determined the items belonged to Mondragon. A search ensued, and his body and car were found down the mountain.
Authorities say it appears Mondragon drove to the top of Smelter Mountain, up County Road 212, where radio towers are located. The car then went off the mountain, and Mondragon died from his injuries.
Herrington said anyone with information may call the Sheriff’s Office at 247-1157 or dispatch at 385-2900.