Second boy in car incident dies

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.


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