GarCo Sheriff’s Department: Fatal RV fire under investigation | VailDaily.com

GarCo Sheriff’s Department: Fatal RV fire under investigation

CARBONDALE, Colorado – Police are investigating the death of a man whose body was discovered in a recreational vehicle fire that occurred during the early morning hours Tuesday up Cattle Creek. “Out of respect for the victim’s family and pending the receipt of the coroner’s report detailing the manner and cause of death, we will not be releasing any further information,” according to a statement from the Garfield County Sheriff’s Department Wednesday afternoon. The Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District responded to the fire call at 3:30 a.m., Tuesday at 589 County Road 113, Carbondale Fire Chief Ron Leach said. “We found an RV-type vehicle fully engulfed in fire. There was a fatality associated with it,” he said. The department responded with four fire trucks and 15 firefighters, he said. The body was discovered after the fire was extinguished, Leach said. The Sheriff’s Department as well as the Colorado Bureau of Investigation were handling the investigation.

Cab passengers skip on downvalley fare

DOTSERO, Colorado –A taxi driver picked up a couple of guys who were seeking a ride to Dotsero, outside a bar at Edwards. He warned them that the minimum cost of the ride would be $100. They indicated they would pay. However, once at Doterso, the passengers instructed the driver to pull off on a dirt road behind the mobile home park, and to turn off his vehicle lights. He refused, and presented them with the $113 bill. One man attempted to pay with a credit card, which was declined. The other fellow offered him $55.70. When advised that amount was not enough, the passenger argued that it was a “matter of principle.” Then both passengers jumped out of the taxi and ran off. The driver called the cops. The cops quickly apprehended the suspects, who were both charged with theft. Miscellaneous mischief • On Aug. 27, an Eagle County Sheriff’s deputy contacted Eagle Police to turn in several items he found scattered around a driveway located at The Bluffs subdivision. The items included a purse with a wallet inside, a computer bag with a Mac Book Pro inside and a grocery bag with various food items inside. About an hour after the items were turned in, the residence’s owner called police to report a theft. The woman was able to pick up her missing items from the police station.

Powerball winner: thieves cleaned me out

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A man beset by problems since winning a record lottery jackpot says he can’t pay a settlement to a casino worker because thieves cleaned out his bank accounts. Powerball winner Jack Whittaker gave that explanation in a note last fall to a lawyer for Kitti French, who accused him of assaulting her at the Tri-State Racetrack and Gaming Center, a slots-only casino near Charleston, according to a motion French’s lawyer filed this week demanding payment of the confidential settlement. Whittaker won a nearly $315 million on Christmas 2002, then the largest undivided lottery prize in U.S. history. He took his winnings in a lump sum of $113 million after taxes. Since then, he has faced his granddaughter’s death by drug overdose; he has been sued for bouncing checks at Atlantic City, N.J., casinos; he has been ordered to undergo rehab after being arrested on drunken driving charges; his vehicles and business have been burglarized; and he has been sued by the father of an 18-year-old boy, a friend of his granddaughter’s, who was found dead in Whittaker’s house. In the latest lawsuit, Whittaker told French’s lawyer, John Barrett, that “a team of crooks” cashed checks in September at 12 City National Bank branches and “got all my money,” according to the motion Barrett filed Wednesday in state court. “I intend to pay but can’t without any money,” Whittaker wrote, according to the motion. An official with City National Bank said Friday the bank is investigating “small discrepancies” in Whittaker’s accounts. Calls to Whittaker and his lawyers Friday were not immediately returned.

Parents arrested in baby’s death

AVON — A 4-month-old baby is dead and her parents are facing homicide charges. Patrick Williams, 27, and Lossie Thomas, 24, were arrested Tuesday and booked for reckless conduct causing death, a Class 2 felony punishable by up to 48 years in prison. The charges stem from the death of their daughter, Baby Paris Williams. The girl was born in February and died June 8. The rest of the formal charges have not been finalized, said Bruce Brown, district attorney. "There has been an autopsy, and the preliminary indications are that this was a homicide, meaning that there was criminal conduct involved," Brown said. A daughter's death Williams and Thomas were arrested Tuesday following an investigation that began with the infant's death, said Bob Ticer, Avon police chief. It started with a June 8 emergency call from Avon's Eaglebend Apartments, reporting that an infant was not breathing, Ticer said. Paramedics from the Eagle County Paramedic Services and Avon police were on the scene in moments, but attempts to revive the infant were unsuccessful and she died, Ticer said. Since then, the case has been under investigation by Avon police detectives, the Eagle County coroner's office and investigators with the Fifth Judicial District. Cause of death The exact circumstances leading to the baby's death were not released Tuesday. The baby's death was caused by bilateral pneumonia, said Kara Bettis, Eagle County coroner. The autopsy found that when the baby died at 4 months of age, it weighed 6.47 pounds, Bettis said. Bettis declined comment about any possible abuse the baby may have suffered. Bilateral pneumonia, or double pneumonia, is a fungal infection that affects both lungs. Patients get fluid in the lungs and have trouble breathing. Arrested in the courthouse When Williams showed up in Eagle County Court on Tuesday morning for a criminal mischief and traffic case, Avon Police Detective Jeremy Holmstrom and Sgt. John Lovins were waiting for him. Judge Katharine Sullivan called him to her bench when his case came up and told him that Holmstrom, Lovins and Eagle County Undersheriff Mike McWilliam wanted him for a more urgent matter. They escorted Williams out of Sullivan's courtroom and into the hall, where they placed him under arrest and handcuffed him. Because the Eagle County jail's booking area is being remodeled and upgraded for the first time since it was built 30 years ago, Williams had to be taken to Vail to be booked and processed. He remains in jail. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance Wednesday morning. Thomas was arrested early Tuesday afternoon in Denver by the Denver Police Department's fugitive detail. Avon police asked for help in arresting Thomas, and Denver police had her in custody by early afternoon, Ticer said. Both Williams and Thomas moved to Avon from Compton, California, in the greater Los Angeles area, authorities said. Thomas worked at a Vail fast food restaurant. Williams' occupation is unknown. Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vail daily.com.

Dad’s bond set at $100K in baby’s death case

EAGLE — A man facing criminal charges in his daughter's death made his first court appearance Wednesday. Patrick Jamil Williams, 27, was advised that he faces four charges: • Child abuse causing death, a Class 2 felony carrying a sentence of up to 48 years. • Child abuse/criminal negligence, a Class 3 felony. Results in the death of a child. • Two counts of misdemeanor child abuse on the two surviving children. District Court Judge Paul Dunkelman set Williams' bond at $100,000, twice the minimum amount. The infant's mother, Lossie Thomas, 24, faces similar charges in the death of their daughter, Baby Paris Williams. She is scheduled to make her first court appearance Thursday. Williams and Thomas will be represented by the public defender's office. Baby Paris was 4 months old and weighed 6.4 pounds when she died of pneumonia June 8. According to court documents, Williams and Thomas have other children together, including one born in June 2011. At the time the child died, Williams was on a felony bond in a criminal mischief case, said Joe Kirwan, the deputy district attorney working this case. Minor legal trouble The two moved from Compton, California, and have had a few brushes with the law since arriving in the Vail Valley. On Nov. 1, 2012, court documents show misdemeanor domestic violence listing Thomas as the victim and Williams as the perpetrator. She admitted she lied to police about him hitting her, saying in a court document that she was mad at him when Avon police were summoned to their Eaglebend apartment. On June 5, 2013, Thomas was arrested for domestic violence. Five days later, the District Attorneys Office dismissed the charges. Her only other brush with the law in Eagle County was a traffic violation in April, for failure to display proof of insurance and driving an unregistered vehicle. In May, Williams was again in trouble, this time for criminal mischief. Again in May he was stopped for speeding and driving without a license. That traffic and criminal mischief case sent him to Eagle County Court Tuesday morning. Avon police were in the courtroom and the hallways of the Eagle County Justice Center, waiting to arrest him in connection with Baby Paris' death. Both arrested Tuesday Williams and Thomas were arrested Tuesday following an investigation that began June 8 when their daughter died in their Eagle Bend apartment. An emergency call reported that an infant was not breathing. Paramedics and police were on the scene in moments, but attempts to revive the infant were unsuccessful. The baby died of bilateral pneumonia, said Kara Bettis, Eagle County coroner. Bettis declined comment about any possible abuse the baby may have suffered. Williams was arrested Tuesday morning in the hall of the Eagle County Justice Center when he showed up for a criminal mischief case. Thomas was arrested early Tuesday afternoon in Denver. Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

Avon woman charged in infant son’s death

AVON – An infant boy is dead, and his mother is in jail facing felony charges stemming from his death. Tanya Amanda Baca, of Avon, was arrested and jailed Wednesday on charges of domestic violence, third-degree assault and child abuse causing death, said Avon Police Lt. Greg Daly. Baca, 30, is being held in the Eagle County jail on a $50,000 cash bond, or $500,000 surety bond, set by Eagle County Judge Katharine Sullivan. At 12:35 a.m. Wednesday, Avon Police responded to the Vail Valley Medical Center to investigate injuries to a 3-month-old infant from Avon. The child was airlifted from Vail to Children’s Hospital in Aurora, where medical personnel continued to try to save him, Daly said. “After advanced medical attempts to save the child, the child died,” Daly said. Avon Police detectives continue to investigate this incident in conjunction with the Eagle County Coroner’s Office and Eagle County Health and Human Services. Baca returns to court at 1 p.m. Wednesday for her attorney’s first appearance.

No charges in hot dog death

ARVADA, Colo. (AP) ” Arvada police say no criminal charges are expected in the case of a 3-year-old boy who died after apparently choking on a piece of hot dog. It happened about noon Friday at a licensed in-home day care facility. Arvada Police spokeswoman Susan Medina says reports indicate Kyle Cox was eating a cut-up hot dog at a table when a piece got caught in his airway. Authorities say the day care provider called 911 and started first-aid on the boy until paramedics arrived and transported him to a nearby hospital. He was later pronounced dead. Medina says the incident remains under investigation, but says it appears to be an accidental death and no charges will be presented to prosecutors.

Deal revises deed restrictions for Gypsum project

EAGLE, Colorado – Eagle County may not end up with the deed restrictions it paid for under a new Stratton Flats deal. A Denver company has a contract to buy the struggling project, and that could change the way the county’s deed restrictions work. The county commissioners sank $4.5 million into the floundering project in January 2008. The tax money is supposed to buy deed restrictions on 113 of Stratton Flats’ 339 units, say the county commissioners who spent the money. That means taxpayers paid more than $40,000 for each of the county’s Stratton Flats deed restrictions. But the nature of those deed restrictions will change under a deal with a new developer and price caps will be removed, say partners in the Stratton Flats deal. Also up in the air is whether the county’s taxpayers will be paid the 6 percent interest on their money they were promised as part of the original deal. County Attorney Bryan Treu says the deal is negotiated, and they’re waiting for banking regulators to approve it. “There will be a presentation in a couple weeks, and we’ll answer questions at that time,” Treu said. The county has been trying to restructure the deal for more than a year. Banking regulators are in the mix because Colorado Business Bank, CoBiz, sank more than three times the money into Stratton Flats that Eagle County did, a bank spokesman said Tuesday. The bank has between $12 million and $18 million in Stratton Flats. “You could say $12 million is in the neighborhood,” said Sue Hermann, spokesperson for Colorado Business Bank. The bank will stay with Stratton Flats, Hermann said. “We are integrally involved and intend to remain so until it comes to a successful completion,” Hermann said. Critics say county taxpayers’ $4.5 million was squandered on Stratton Flats and is lost. But county officials say it’s no more lost than it ever was. For the county to recover any of its $4.5 million, Stratton Flats units have to sell, said Alex Potente, Eagle County’s housing director. But Gypsum is the county’s slowest real estate market, and Stratton Flats is located near the end of the Eagle County airport’s runway. Of the 338 home foreclosures this year in Eagle County, 93 are in Gypsum. One Stratton Flats house has sold in the last year, a $379,494 government-to-government deal. The Eagle River Water and Sanitation District negotiated a deed restricted purchase for one of its staff members. That deal closed Sept. 21, 2009. On the Stratton Flats website Tuesday, three bedroom homes were listed for $325,000 on the open market. “The money is gone, but the affordable housing remains part of our community,” said County Commissioner Sara Fisher. Fisher, along with Peter Runyon and former county commissioner Arn Menconi, voted unanimously to get Eagle County involved in Stratton Flats. “We’re fortunate that we were able to forge a partnership with the owners and the bank to keep it as an affordable housing project,” Fisher said. Fisher said when she was running four years ago, affordable housing was the highest priority. “All the Vail projects had been approved and were getting under way,” Fisher said. “It was full speed ahead. Some thought we’d never stop growing. They banked on it.” Not all deed restrictions are created equal. Stratton Flats is a three-way deal between the town of Gypsum, Eagle County and the developer. Gypsum waived its tap fees, real estate transfer taxes and other up-front costs, in exchange for deed restrictions on 113 units. Gypsum has no money tied up in Stratton Flats. Eagle County’s deed restrictions limit a home’s value to increases of not more than 3 percent per year. Gypsum requires that the homes be sold to locals, and have no price caps. Under the new deal, the county’s price caps will be removed, say Gypsum officials. “Their deed restrictions will change under the new deal,” said Lana Gallegos with the town of Gypsum. The other 113 Stratton Flats units are being sold on the open market. Stratton Flats has always struggled. The project was submitted to Gypsum at the same time as the Tower Center, a proposed shopping center in Gypsum that has never gotten off the ground. Stratton Flats was floundering when the county commissioners poured in $4.5 million to keep it afloat. In January 2008 the commissioners at the time – Menconi, Runyon and Fisher – spent the $4.5 million from a facilities fund. The three did not officially appropriate the money until February 2008. The three commissioners did not form the county’s housing authority until March 2008, two months after the money was spent.

No criminal charges in climber death

Prosecutor: No criminal charges in Wyoming climber death By BOB MOEN Associated Press Writer CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) ” No criminal charges will be filed against a man who threw a bowling ball-sized rock over a cliff, hitting and killing another man climbing below, a prosecutor said Friday. Fremont County Attorney Ed Newell said a number of factors went into his decision not to file criminal charges, including the fact that drugs and alcohol were not involved. Newell has refused to identify the man who threw the rock, saying only that he recently returned from military service in Iraq. Pete Absolon, 47, died instantly when he was struck by the rock Aug. 11 while climbing the Leg Lake Cirque in the Wind River Mountains near Lander, 220 miles northwest of Cheyenne. Absolon was the Rocky Mountain regional director of the National Outdoor Leadership School in Lander. Newell said Absolon’s widow has the option of pursuing a civil case. The man, who had no prior record, was hiking with several others on top the cliff when he threw the rock weighing about 15 to 20 pounds over the ledge and down a sheer rock wall, Newell said. “He had no idea that there was anybody below,” Newell said. The man then leaned over and saw the rock hit Absolon, immediately calling his friends for help and running to the bottom of the cliff to check on Absolon, Newell said. “He could have easily walked away, and it would have been assumed that the rock had simply fallen due to natural causes,” Newell said. In making his decision not to file charges, Newell cited the man’s remorse and said he took responsibility and cooperated with investigators. Still, Newell said throwing the rock over the ledge without checking to see if anyone was below was “criminally negligent or reckless.” “Mr. Absolon died needlessly, leaving a wife and young daughter to live their lives without his love and support,” Newell said. “We all need to understand that a moment’s carelessness can kill.”

No charges in Breck skier death

By Bob BerwynRobert Wills, a 31-year-old British man involved in a deadly skiing accident at Breckenridge, was released from the Summit County jail Thursday, March 6, after local law enforcement officials decided not to charge him in the death of Richard Henrichs, 56, of Illinois.Wills was arrested after colliding with Henrichs on Peak 9 Sunday, March 2. Henrichs reportedly hit a tree after the collision. He was transported via Flight for Life to Swedish Medical Center, where he later died of his injuries.Wills was held in jail while authorities tried to decide whether he should be charged in the death. But Fifth Judicial District Attorney Mark Hurlbert decided not to charge Wills after reviewing police and ski patrol reports, as well as eyewitness statements, the coroner’s report and medical reports.Hurlbert was unavailable for comment Thursday, but in a news release, the District Attorney’s office in Breckenridge said there &quotis insufficient evidence to prove a crime occurred beyond a reasonable doubt.&quot&quotI think the the D.A. made the right decision,&quot says Summit County Sheriff Joe Morales, describing the accident as a &quotshoulder-to-shoulder&quot impact that deflected Henrichs into a lone tree. Morales says Wills was arrested after one eyewitness reported that Wills had been skiing in a high-speed tuck position. But Morales says the subsequent investigation could not confirm that initial report.&quotAll the information we got was that this was an accident,&quot Morales says.&quotThis has been a tragedy for all of the people involved. We extend our condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Henrichs. And we also realize that this situation is traumatic for Mr. Wills,&quot Breckenridge Chief Operating Officer Roger McCarthy said in a prepared statement.&quotNow that the District Attorney has reached a decision in this matter, it is appropriate to comment on the safety questions raised,&quot McCarthy said. &quotStatistically, skier-to-skier collisions such as this one are very rare, according to state and national data. Skier and snowboarder safety is of paramount importance to Vail Resorts. Our company is committed to setting high standards of safety awareness and education in all areas of operations across our five ski resorts. Our company is an established leader in skier safety initiatives, and we continue to enhance existing programs and develop new ones to address safety concerns on the mountain.&quotThere have been other on-slope collisions that resulted in felony charges. In 1989, a Texas man pleaded no contest to criminally negligent homicide after killing an 11-year-old girl at Winter Park. And in January 2001, former Vail lift operator Nathan Hall was convicted of criminally negligent homicide after killing a Denver man in a collision on the last day of the 1997 season.Hall was sentenced to 90 days in jail and 240 hours of community service, an unspecified amount of restitution and three years of probation. As part of his probation, Hall was prohibited from skiing for three years unless it was in conjunction with a skier safety event.Such cases have shown that skiers can be held legally accountable for their actions, though attorneys say each case must be judged on its own merits. Morales says that comparisons between the recent collision at Breckenridge and the Vail collision involving Hall are not valid.&quotIt’s like apples and oranges,&quot Morales says, explaining that, in Hall’s case, other skiers noticed Hall skiing dangerously and followed him down the mountain, warning him to slow down.Colorado ski areas are not alone in wrestling with skier safety issues. According to a report on the BBC Web site, Italian authorities in Cortina d’Ampezzo, which hosted the 1956 Winter Olympics, are considering whether to separate skiers and snowboarders after a deadly collision in January. According to the report, the incident also has spurred the Italian sports ministry to consider whether to make helmets mandatory for young skiers. Government and resort officials are meeting to discuss ways to reduce a sharp rise in the number of on-slope accidents, the BBC reports. Without citing sources for its figures, the BBC claims there have been 15 percent more accidents this year than last season.Fourteen people have died at Colorado ski areas this winter, including two who fell from chairlifts. Six skiers died after hitting trees, one strangled on a boundary rope, one crashed in a terrain park, while another died after skiing off a cliff. Last season, a record 16 skiers died on the slopes of the state.Nationally, skier deaths have ranged between 26 and 47 during the past 10 seasons, according to statistics compiled in a recent Denver Post report. In Colorado, those numbers have ranged between three (in the 1995-’96 season), to 16 last year.