Jensen Boys' Cause of Death: Hyperthermia
KREX News Room
MESA COUNTY, Colo. - Tuesday, Mesa County Coroner's Office released its report on 2-year-old William Jensen and 4-year-old Tyler Jensen.
The cause of death is hyperthermia. The manner of death is accidental.
"Continued exposure to excessive heat can lead to hyperthermia. Older adults, young children, and those with chronic medical conditions are most likely to suffer from heat-related illnesses and are at a higher rate of death," explained Tamara Capp, with Mesa County Health and Human Services.
As opposed to hypothermia, which is common in the winter, hyperthermia is an elevated temperature, or excessive heating, of the body. The findings are leading people to wonder how this could have happened on a winter night, on a snowy mountain.
Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger told NewsChannel 5 this is very rare case.
"The coroner's calling it an accident and not a homicide. The cause of death is hyperthermia, which is something I had never heard of in 20-plus years of law enforcement, and not many other people have either," explained Hautzinger.
The Jensen boys were discovered unconscious and unresponsive in mother Heather Jensen's vehicle on Powderhorn Road off Highway 65 in the evening hours of Nov. 27. William passed away at the scene. Tyler died Dec. 3 after fighting for his life in a Denver hospital for a week.
The past six weeks have been difficult for family members, loved ones, and even the local community as they waited for answers.
"It has been a roller coaster ride. It has been a long time since this family has seen peace and it will be a long time before they do see peace ... they need rest ... they are tired. They are so tired." Heather Aspy, a close friend, expressed grief as she spoke about the Mathena family.
Eric Jensen, the boys' father and Diane and Robert Mathena's son, died in a car accident in Garfield County Oct. 10.
"There's not a day that goes by that we don't think about them," added Rodger Mathena, the boys' step-uncle.
The matter is now in the District Attorney's hands. Hautzinger must decide whether or not any criminal charges will be filed. It's a responsibility he's not allowing public pressure to weigh in on.
"This is a very difficult, complicated case ... and I'm not prepared to make a decision yet. There's a lot of analysis that I still want to do ... which is why I want to take my time and be as careful as I can to make the right decision about where we go from here," he explained.
Hautzinger doesn't expect to have any updates in the case until next week.