Adam Gilbertson, a 29-year-old registered nurse from Minnesota, went missing on December 15, 2018, after a night out in Denver. His disappearance sparked a massive search effort by his family, friends, and volunteers, who hoped to find him alive and well. However, their worst fears were confirmed when his body was found on January 13, 2019, on the banks of the South Platte River. The autopsy report revealed that Gilbertson died from a combination of drugs and possible drowning, ruling his death as an accident. How did this tragic event unfold and what impact did it have on the Denver community?
The Night of the Disappearance
According to surveillance video and witness accounts, Gilbertson left his apartment around 9 p.m. on December 14, 2018, and took a Lyft to the Syntax Physic Opera, a nightclub on South Broadway. He was seen leaving the club around 1 a.m. on December 15, 2018, and walking to another bar nearby. He then took another Lyft to his apartment, but never made it inside. He was last seen on camera walking away from his building around 2:30 a.m., wearing a black jacket, a black hat, and a backpack. He never showed up for work that morning, which alarmed his co-workers and family.
The Search Effort
Gilbertson’s family flew to Colorado from Minnesota to look for him, and organized a search party with more than 100 volunteers on January 6, 2019. They distributed flyers, searched the area where he was last seen, and contacted local businesses and media outlets for help. They also set up a Facebook page and a GoFundMe campaign to raise awareness and funds for the search. They hoped that Gilbertson was still alive, and that he might have suffered a head injury or memory loss that prevented him from contacting them.
The Discovery of the Body
On January 13, 2019, a volunteer searcher spotted Gilbertson’s body on the eastern bank of the South Platte River, near the intersection of West Florida Avenue and South Platte River Drive. The Denver Police Department and the Denver Office of the Medical Examiner were notified and confirmed his identity. The autopsy report, which was released on March 10, 2019, stated that Gilbertson died from the combined toxic effects of alcohol, hydrocodone, amphetamine, and possible freshwater drowning, with a significant contributing condition of recent cocaine use. The manner of death was ruled as an accident, and no foul play was suspected.
The Reaction of the Community
Gilbertson’s death shocked and saddened the Denver community, especially those who knew him personally or participated in the search. Many people expressed their condolences and tributes on social media, and attended a memorial service for him on January 19, 2019, at the First Baptist Church of Denver. Gilbertson was remembered as a kind, caring, and adventurous person, who loved his family, friends, and job as a nurse. He was also passionate about music, travel, and outdoor activities. His family thanked everyone who supported them during the difficult time, and asked for privacy and respect as they grieved their loss.
The Lessons Learned
Gilbertson’s death also raised awareness and questions about the dangers of drug use and the safety of nightlife in Denver. According to the Denver Post, Denver had the highest rate of drug overdose deaths among the 35 largest U.S. cities in 2018, with 1,062 fatalities. Many of these deaths involved opioids, such as hydrocodone, which Gilbertson had in his system. The Denver Health Medical Center and other organizations have been working to combat the opioid crisis by providing treatment, prevention, and harm reduction services, such as naloxone, a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose. However, more efforts are needed to educate and help people who struggle with substance abuse and addiction.
Additionally, Gilbertson’s case highlighted the importance of being careful and vigilant when going out at night, especially alone. Some tips to stay safe include: planning ahead, telling someone where you are going and when you expect to return, keeping your phone charged and accessible, avoiding excessive alcohol or drug consumption, staying with your friends or in a group, being aware of your surroundings, and trusting your instincts. If you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, do not hesitate to call for help or leave the situation.
Adam Gilbertson’s cause of death was a tragic accident that could have happened to anyone. His story touched many hearts and minds, and reminded us of the value of life and the need for compassion. May he rest in peace.