Coroner: Exhaust Leak Killed Two Men Found In Running Car In Lander

Hayden Ramsay, one of two men who died of carbon monoxide poisoning in a Lander parking lot, leaves behind a 7-year-old son. The boy told his mother that it would be OK because "Dad is now up in heaven with Papa (his grandfather)."

Clair McFarland

March 28, 20234 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

The two men who died in a Lander parking lot in a car last month died from vehicle exhaust poisoning, the Fremont County Coroner has confirmed.   

Hayden Ramsay, 29, and Ronald LaRue Jr., 62, both died of “acute carbon monoxide poisoning,” according to coroner dockets released to Cowboy State Daily on Monday. They’d been in the car the morning of Feb. 25, when the outside temperature in Lander hit a low of minus 8 degrees.  

Restaurant owners and a cook discovered the pair that morning and realized they were dead about midday and called 911.  

Ramsay’s carboxyhemoglobin saturation was 79% while LaRue’s was 42%.   

LaRue’s body also contained 30 nanograms of Delta-9 THC per milliliter of blood. His blood-alcohol content was 0.10 %.    

Ramsay’s blood-alcohol content was 0.169 %.   

‘Something Was Coming’ 

Ramsay’s sister, Amanda Ramsay, told Cowboy State Daily that her brother was “a bright light in everybody’s lives.”  

Amanda, Hayden and their brother Troy Ramsay all grew up in California before going their separate ways, said Amanda, who now lives in Fort Collins.  

Hayden Ramsay had been living most recently in Reno, Nevada, but was driving to the Harvest Farms in Colorado to be treated for alcohol addiction, said Amanda.  

“Before he died he kept telling my mom, ‘I have to get help or I’m going to die, Mom. I’m going to die,’” said Amanda. “He knew that something was coming.”  

Amanda Ramsay said she did not know Ronald LaRue.  

‘Such A Freak Accident’ 

Amanda said the carbon monoxide poisoning was “such a freak accident,” and that everything still feels surreal.  

“It definitely changes your outlook on life, and you get a sense of mortality like we actually will die one day,” said Amanda. “It’s hard, but we’re going to all get through it.”  

A Passion Of His 

Hayden Ramsay was a sponsored skateboarder by the time he was 8 years old, his sister said.  

“He was just such a fun-loving person,” she said. “He was a daredevil. There was no fear, none at all in that kid.”  

But he paid for that fearlessness in the form of a torn rotator cuff, injured in high school football; shattered fingers from mishandling a sledgehammer at age 7; and various other injuries.  

Amanda said that Hayden Ramsay was by their father’s side when he died six years ago, and he had a “really hard time after that.”  

“Hayden watched my dad take his last breath,” she said.  

Hayden Ramsay also had a son, who is 7 years old, Amanda said.  

She said that when the boy heard of his dad’s death, he told his mother, “That’s OK. Because now Dad’s up in heaven with Papa.”  

Now the family is preparing for a celebration of life for Hayden Ramsay in April, Amanda said, adding that she’s organizing a trust fund for his son.  

“Hayden was so loved,” she said, recalling multiple occasions on which her brother would care for her while she was sick and help her take care of her daughter, who is now a teenager. “So loved all around.” 

Car Running All Day  

A cook at the Antler restaurant in Lander first noticed the running car in the parking lot at 11 a.m. on Feb. 25, according to restaurant owner Sophal Thompson.   

The vehicle was running all day.   

The cook later discovered there were two men in the car, both completely still.   

“I think they’re dead,” the cook reported to Thompson, she recalled.   

Thompson’s husband then went out and opened the car door and checked the men for pulses.   

“They were both stiff already,” Thompson said. 

Thompson suspected from the start that the car’s exhaust was leaking into the vehicle and poisoned both men, she said at the time.   

“It messed me up a little,” Thompson said. “I hugged my babies when I got home.”   

Both men were traveling through town and were not Fremont County residents, according to Fremont County Coroner Erin Ivie. 

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter