Man bleeds to death in church parking lot
Glass cuts in victim’s arm, bled to death police believe
GUNNISON—The negative consequences of alcohol seem apparent when you hear the theory of how a Hispanic man died in the parking lot of the Gunnison LDS Stake Center during the wee hours of Tuesday morning.
After a call came into dispatch, officers arrived at the stake center about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday to find 21-year old Ricardo Valencia of Gunnison dead in a pool of his own blood with a trail of blood extending two blocks away.
Valencia was under the supervision of Adult Probation and Parole, and, according to authorities, he had been incarcerated at the Sanpete County Jail until Monday, the day before his death.
Gunnison Valley Police Chief Brett McCall says although his department treats every death as potentially suspicious, the main theory in the investigation is that the death was accidental.
“Apparently they were having a party a on the 100 North block of Gunnison,” McCall said. “We believe the victim got into an altercation and was asked to leave. As he was leaving the house, he stuck his arm through the glass kitchen door window, slicing the artery beneath his upper right bicep.”
McCall said that a cut like that would mean a large amount of blood loss in a short amount of time.
“There was a blanket found on the scene that had a substantial amount of blood soaked into it,” McCall said. “There was actually a trail of blood from the residence to where the body was located. ”
According to McCall, authorities believe the victim was trying to make it on foot to his brother’s house, which was one block beyond the stake center, when he collapsed from loss of blood.
“He lost a significant amount of blood and likely passed out where he was found,” McCall said. “We believe he died due to a combination of blood loss and exposure to the elements.”
Because it was a death, McCall called for support form other local law enforcement agencies in the county. The size of the crime scene—more than two blocks—meant a large contingent of professionals was needed to process the scene.
Assistance came from the Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office, the Major Crimes Task Force, the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, the Salina City Police Department, the Central Utah Narcotics Task Force, the Utah State Medical Examiner’s Office and the Utah Department of Public Safety. Staff from Adult Probation and Parole also reported in.
“More than 30 interviews and the execution of a search warrant have been part of the investigation so far,” Sanpete County Sheriff Brian Nielson said.
McCall says that the investigators had been interviewing a lot of the people at the party, as well as associates of Valencia, and so far, their stories corroborate the accidental death theory.
A 360-degree digital forensics scan was performed, something McCall says is a standard procedure in death cases. Its 3D scanners look like tripod-mounted globes and help to catalog an investigation area, McCall says.
McCall said alcohol was “absolutely a mitigating factor,” in the death, and his department is waiting to determine if drugs played a part, too.
“There are other aspects we are looking at and other areas of town we are looking into,” McCall said. “If any updates are released, we will make them known to the public.”
The victim’s family have been notified, says McCall.
Anyone with information can get in touch with the Gunnison Valley Police Department through Sanpete County Dispatch, 835-2345.