VAIL, Colorado - Unfounded rumors swirling around last week's late-night Lionshead accident are making people unnecessarily afraid, Vail police said.
"The rumor side of this has people fearful and that's unfortunate. It's unfounded," said Detective Sgt. Annette Dopplick with the Vail Police Department. "Our collective efforts to create and maintain a safe and vibrant nightlife are challenged by these unfounded rumors of assault."
Police and emergency medical personnel were called to Lionshead around 1:20 a.m. Thursday when a Vail bus driver spotted a young woman lying injured near a bus stop. A large puddle of the woman's blood was on the steps around her.
Almost immediately rumors began flying around town that she had been assaulted, and that two other women had also been assaulted on the following two days. None of those rumors are true, police said.
"Her appearance is consistent with an accidental fall. There was nothing suspicious," Dopplick said. "And there have been no assaults."
Dopplick said Vail police conducted a thorough investigation into the incident and concluded there is no indication of any suspicious circumstances or assault.
Vail police said the rumors she'd been assaulted might have started when the woman's friends and co-workers learned of her injuries, insisting they could not have been caused by a fall, and therefore she must have been assaulted.
"Her injuries were sustained when she fell down some steps," Dopplick said.
The woman provided a number of statements about how she got the injuries and some of them turned out to be inconsistent, Dopplick said.
"We do not believe she had intent to mislead the police," said Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger said. "Rather she was intoxicated and had sustained significant injury."
The rumors also asserted that two other assaults occurred over the weekend and authorities and local media were conspiring to cover it up.
Social media and word-of-mouth were used to spread inaccurate information, police said.
Addressing the rumors and misinformation has been challenging, police said.
"It has begun to spiral into rumors of an 'assault suspect on the loose,' or a 'rapist stalking the parking structures,' all of which are simply not true," Henninger said.
Dopplick said she talked to the woman Monday morning before the woman underwent surgery for her facial injuries.
"We have a great community and we hope they continue to rally around this woman," Dopplick said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.