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Confrontation between off-roaders turns violent near Montezuma

Sawyer D'Argonne, Summit Daily News

FRISCO — Two men were issued summonses for misdemeanor assault after a confrontation broke out between off-roading parties early last week resulting in thrown punches and several individuals getting showered in bear spray.

At about 4:15 p.m. Aug. 9, deputies with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office responded to reports of an assault near Radical Hill, south of Montezuma in unincorporated Summit County. Once on scene, deputies quickly discovered that participants in the quarrel had very different perspectives about how things unfolded.

Both parties did provide a cohesive summary of how they first came into contact. Earlier that afternoon, a group of people in three Jeeps stopped to help another individual who got stuck while trying to climb a hill. As they worked to free the vehicle, another group of five came down the hill in a side-by-side all-terrain vehicle. Trouble between the groups started immediately, according to police records.

Deputies first made contact with the ATV party. The group told police they passed a motorcyclist earlier in the day who said he was attacked by a group of people in Jeeps and that they were later attacked by the same group. The party told police that the Jeep group acted aggressively, throwing punches and pelting them with rocks without any provocation. The party also told police that the group threw a large rock at the back of their ATV.

A man in the ATV group said he retrieved a can of bear spray from inside his vehicle and sprayed the Jeep group to protect himself and his family. They then fled the scene, loaded their ATV into a trailer and called the police from the gondola lot at Keystone Resort.

Deputies observed “golf-ball-sized” lumps on the head of a person who claimed he was punched multiple times. One individual had a scratch on her hip from a rock, and another claimed he got hit in the back of the head with a rock. The ATV’s windshield and taillight also were apparently broken in the altercation, according to the report. All individuals in the ATV group declined medical treatment.

The Jeep group’s report was considerably different. When deputies arrived on scene, several members of the Jeep party were still on the mountain, necessitating medical attention before they were able to drive down to the Keystone parking lot.

There were three Jeeps in the party, according to the report. Two made the trip up the hill to help the broken-down Jeep stuck on the trail, while the other stayed at the bottom of the hill.

Individuals in the Jeep group told police they tried to stop the ATV from coming down the hill because of the stuck vehicle and the other Jeep waiting at the bottom. The group said the ATV party refused to stop, became aggressive and starting yelling before spraying the group with bear spray. One individual said he fell to the ground and couldn’t see, and started throwing rocks to try to defend himself.

In total, at least four people in the group were exposed directly to the bear spray. Everyone who was directly exposed received medical treatment at the scene, and one individual was taken to St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco for further treatment.

Two women who were waiting near the third Jeep at the bottom of the hill told deputies they could hear shouting and observed a big cloud of bear spray from up the hill. As the ATV made its way to the bottom of the hill, the women said a passenger got out of the vehicle, grabbed a rock and threatened to kill them.

Deputies did discover one relatively uninvolved witness to the altercation: The man who’s Jeep broke down on the trail. The man told police that he didn’t know any of the individuals who stopped to help him out but that he was thankful they did.

He said that as he was speaking with the Jeep group, an ATV came “flying” down the trail above them and that as members of the Jeep group began waving their arms to stop the vehicle while an occupant in the ATV group began cursing and telling them to get out of the way. The ATV group pulled over briefly and both groups began exchanging words. During the encounter, the man told police a member of the ATV group called one woman in the Jeep group a “b—-” along with other derogatory comments. The situation continued to escalate from there.

The witness told deputies he continued watching from a distance and said the ATV group “completely instigated” the entire situation, noting that they appeared to be looking for a fight and acted unreasonably when the Jeep group requested they stop and wait. However, he said it was the Jeep group that started the physical confrontation by throwing a couple of punches at one of the ATV occupants before the bear spray was used.

Ultimately, deputies issued a misdemeanor summons for third-degree assault to the man who admitted to throwing rocks at the ATV group and a misdemeanor summons for five counts of third-degree assault to the man who sprayed the Jeep group with bear spray.

Neither individual currently has a scheduled court date.


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