Man who died after fleeing Steamboat police drowned, coroner says
Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg said Wednesday the 22-year-old Steamboat Springs man found dead in the Yampa River after fleeing police had drowned.
An autopsy performed Tuesday also showed signs that Arman Qureshi was hypothermic and had trauma. Ryg said it did not appear as if the trauma was fatal, and objects in the river likely caused it.
Toxicology test results are not expected for a few weeks. They will show what substances were in Qureshi’s body.
Qureshi’s older sister, Taj Qureshi, submitted a letter Wednesday about her brother, who moved to Steamboat recently to do IT work for SmartWool.
“Arman was a loving brother, charming cousin and nephew and devoted son,” Qureshi wrote. “He loved Steamboat Springs and all the people he came to know over the last several months. My parents are thankful that they got to spend the past week vacationing with him and were able to make happy memories that will last forever.”
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Steamboat Springs Police Chief Cory Christensen on Wednesday released some additional information about the incident that resulted in Qureshi fleeing from police and going into the river.
Police first contacted Qureshi in an alley behind 737 Lincoln Ave. Sunday night after it was reported he stole a purse.
Qureshi was disoriented with a swollen eye, and police believed he had been involved in an altercation.
According to Qureshi’s sister, Qureshi had drunk too much alcohol, and he likely mistook another person’s jacket for his own and walked out of the establishment with the person’s belongings.
Police were still investigating the specifics of what happened.
“In his disoriented state, he was eventually approached by the local police for questioning,” Qureshi’s sister wrote. “To avoid escalating the situation further, he must have thought it would be best to run away and cross the river.”
When Qureshi was initially contacted by police, they were still gathering information and decided not to detain him.
When paramedics arrived to check Qureshi, Christensen said Qureshi walked toward the ambulance and then started running away.
Christensen said Officer Jeff Malchow deployed his Taser about halfway between the alley and the river, but the Taser did not work.
After Qureshi’s body was recovered, one of the Taser’s two probes was found in his belt. Both probes have to have contact for the device to work.
“We know for a fact it didn’t work,” Christensen said.
Qureshi entered the river where tubers put in next to Backdoor Sports. There were no indications that Qureshi intended to take his own life.
Christensen reviewed body camera footage and said he recalled Malchow shouting to Qureshi, “it’s too cold, you’ll die.”
Malchow followed Qureshi and yelled at him to come ashore. Around 10th Street, Qureshi came near the shore and Malchow.
“You clearly see Arman pull away from the officer,” Christensen said.
Further down river, Malchow took off his belt and vest and waded in the water but was not able to save Qureshi.
His body was found the next day about five miles downstream.
Qureshi was a Muslim from the Chicago area, and Christensen said they worked closely with the Qureshi family to follow their Islamic traditions.
On Wednesday, the Qureshi family met with people at the Steamboat Police Department, Routt County Search and Rescue and SmartWool to show the family’s gratitude.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @sbtstensland.