Hypothermia ruled cause of death in man found frozen at the Rock Shop; Sleep aide found in his system

By Ernie Over, managing editor, county10.com

(Riverton, Wyo.) – The death of a 42-year-old man who was found frozen on the porch of a cabin at the Rock Shop on South Pass on December 21st has been ruled accidental. Charles J. Carden was found outside on the porch and his body had frozen overnight in the cold weather.

The Fremont County Coroner’s Verdict and Case Docket in Carden’s case indicated the cause of death was hypothermia and toxicology results indicated his blood contained 1,600 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) of the sleep aide Ambien (Zolpidem). It’s possible that the man sleepwalked outside, where he fell victim to hypothermia, officials said.

Carden was the caretaker at the Rock Shop. His body was autopsied in Colorado after Christmas and the verdict and case docket was filed Tuesday.

Ambien was the subject of a Federal Drug Administration warning last Thursday that recommended lower doses of the drug, especially for women, and that men should be dosed individually by their doctors due to the drug’s long lasting effect well into the next morning.  A report from the National Center for Drug Control and Research that was widely published last week indicated that that levels of Zolpidem (Ambien) above about 50 ng/ml increased the risk of impaired driving. Carden’s bloodstream contained 1,600 ng/ml of the drug.