Dennis Riben remembered as a ‘survivor’ |

Dennis Riben remembered as a ‘survivor’

Nicole Frey

EDWARDS” After years of following the Grateful Dead, Dennis Riben had developed a knack for squeaking by in life, said his friend and former roommate Dan Krajack.

“He had been on tour for so long, so he knew how to survive,” Krajack said.

But despite his touted ability to stay afloat, Riben’s luck ran out last week.

After bouncing around Eagle County and Leadville for more than a decade, the 33-year-old man and his dog, Riley, were found dead in Riben’s Volkswagen van above Singletree in Edwards last Wednesday.

A Singletree resident, who declined to give his name, said he had seen Riben’s van parked at the Forest Service’s June Creek access road and guessed it had been there for about three weeks. When the snow started to fall, but the man could see no tracks around the van, he guessed the vehicle was abandoned and reported it to authorities.

After plowing the road, sheriffs deputies found Riben’s body, along with the body of Riley.

While the sheriff’s office says no foul play is suspected, friends are also ruling out suicide.

“I don’t think he killed himself,” said Krajack, who had lived with Riben in Leadville. “I’ve seen him so down that if he was going to do that, he would have done it then.”

Krajack went on to say if Riben had wanted to kill himself, he would have first made provisions for his dog, an old German shepherd.

“He loved his dog more than anything,” Krajack said.

Instead, friends point tentatively to Riben’s drug use.

“He never wanted a steady job and a steady place to live,” Krajack said.

Toxicology reports, which will take about three weeks, are pending, according to Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis.

But despite his faults, Riben’s former girlfriend, Ashley Perry, who now lives in Missouri, said he will be missed.

“He was a local, and he and Riley were known and cared for by a lot of people out there,” Perry said in an e-mail to the Vail Daily. Perry parted company with Riben more than a year ago.

The sheriff’s office continues to investigate the case.

Staff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14621, or

Vail, Colorado

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