Second boy in car incident dies

By Emily Shockley
Tuesday, December 4, 2012

UPDATED, 8:30 a.m., Tuesday: Tyler Jensen was pronounced dead at Children’s Hospital at 10:57 p.m. Monday, The Daily Sentinel has learned.

Four-year-old Tyler Jensen of Palisade was removed from life support Monday night, according to his stepgrandfather.

Robert Mathena of Clifton confirmed to the Sentinel that Tyler was removed from life support about 9:30 p.m. at Children’s Hospital in Aurora. Tyler had been receiving treatment at the hospital since Nov. 27.

That night, the boy’s mother, Heather Jensen, has told Mesa County Sheriff’s investigators she left Tyler and his 2-year-old brother, William, in her Toyota 4-Runner for approximately 90 minutes while she met a male friend near Powderhorn Ski Resort, according to a search warrant affidavit. Soon after returning to the vehicle, Heather Jensen has said she discovered William was not breathing and Tyler was struggling to breathe. William was pronounced dead at the scene.

Cause and manner of death have not been released for William.

A doctor who treated Tyler at Children’s Hospital told investigators Wednesday she did not believe the toddler suffered carbon monoxide poisoning the night of Nov. 27, according to court records obtained by The Daily Sentinel.

The records, which the Sentinel obtained when they were available to the public but are now sealed, state a pediatric resident at Children’s Hospital told an investigator she did not believe Tyler “was suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, as originally assumed, based on his blood tests.”

The pediatric resident who looked at Tyler’s blood test results asked the sheriff’s investigator if there were any prescription medications, substances or pesticides in the Toyota 4-Runner that belonged to Heather Jensen, according to court records. The investigator responded that the vehicle had not been thoroughly searched at that time. The vehicle was later searched. If found in the 4-Runner, any children’s clothing, prescriptions, prescription medications, empty prescription medication containers, controlled substances, pesticides, chemicals or poisons would be material to a potential prosecution case for child abuse resulting in death, court records state.

On Monday afternoon, Mathena told the Sentinel he believed carbon monoxide poisoning did not sicken Tyler. Mathena said on the night of the incident a doctor told his wife and her two sons that carbon monoxide did not appear to be a factor in Tyler’s illness.

“The doctor said it looked more like suffocation,” Mathena said.

Mathena said Tyler, who is the son of Mathena’s deceased stepson, Eric Jensen, had emergency surgery Friday morning to reduce brain swelling but he had too much damage to survive.

Mathena said he and family members want to hire an attorney and fight for custody of William’s body and Tyler’s body so they can “give (them) a decent, Christian funeral” and bury them. Mathena said Heather Jensen told family members she wanted to cremate William and not have a service.

A fund for the boys has been set up at U.S. Bank branches. Donations can be made to the Tyler William Jensen Fund.

This is the second time in as many months Mathena and his family have endured a loss. Eric Jensen died in a car crash Oct. 10 near Rifle. Mathena said Heather Jensen cashed her husband’s approximately $42,000 life insurance policy the day of the incident near Powderhorn.

Staff writer Paul Shockley contributed to this report.


Jensen boys died after overheating in mother’s SUV; Coroner rules deaths accidental

By Paul Shockley
Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Young William and Tyler Jensen died after overheating as they were left alone in their mother’s Toyota 4Runner on Grand Mesa Nov. 27, in what have been ruled accidental deaths, the Mesa County Coroner’s Office said today.

William, 2, and Tyler, 4, died as a result of hyperthermia — elevated temperature of the body.

The Mesa County District Attorney’s said the case is still being considered for possible charges.

The boy’s mother, Heather Jensen, 24, called 911 at 6:31 p.m. on Nov. 27 and reported William was unconscious, not breathing and had no pulse, according to a search warrant affidavit obtained by The Daily Sentinel. The affidavit said she told dispatchers around 6:50 p.m. that Tyler was breathing but “gurgling” with every breath. William was pronounced dead at the scene. Tyler died later at Children’s Hospital in Aurora after being removed from life support.

Jensen, in her initial statement to Mesa County Sheriff’s deputies on the night of Nov. 27, said she had taken her sons to play in the snow near Powderhorn Ski Resort. She said when they finished, she put the boys back in their car seat and started her 4Runner.

“Heather said she stood outside the vehicle, smoking a cigarette and then spoke to a friend who happened to drive by,” the affidavit said. “Heather said after about 10 minutes, she got in the vehicle and started driving home. She described hearing Tyler making gurgling noises within minutes of driving away.”

She said when she pulled over, she found William in distress and called 911, the affidavit said.

Jensen gave another description of events later that same day.

Interviewed at the Sheriff’s Department, Jensen said she made arrangements to meet a male friend and let her children play in the snow. After that, she said she put the children back in their car seats and started her engine. Jensen described “getting into the man’s truck,” which was parked next to the 4Runner.

Jensen admitted leaving the boys alone in her 4Runner, with its engine running, for approximately 90 minutes, the affidavit said. She told investigators both children were wearing coats when they were outside playing in the snow and she took the coats off when they got back into the 4Runner because they were wet, the affidavit said.