In reported Eagle hit-and-run, motorcyclist and mountain biker offer very different stories
September 21, 2017
EAGLE — Three weeks ago, the Eagle County Sheriff's Office reached out to the community with a Crime Stoppers appeal for information about a hit-and-run accident involving a mountain biker and a motorcycle along the Second Gulch Trail south of Eagle.
It took less than a day for the motorcyclist to come forward with a very different narrative regarding what happened along the trail.
On Aug. 28, Deputy Jake Best responded to the original report. He spoke with a 75-year-old cyclist from Florida who said he was riding up the right side of the trail when he was hit by a motorcyclist. The man had abrasions and contusions to his chest and legs, and he said the motorcyclist left the scene without offering help or information. The cyclist offered a description of the motorcycle but was vague when describing the rider. The cyclist also showed the deputy his $2,000 bike, which had sustained considerable damage.
Based on the information provided, the Crime Stoppers alert was issued that evening. On Tuesday morning, Deputy Bob Silva received a call from the motorcyclist involved in the incident. Rather, he received a call from the motorcyclist and his father.
The motorcycle involved in the incident was driven by a 13-year-old local youth, and his father was riding behind him. The youth said he was driving down the Second Gulch Trail — which is an identified multi-use trail — on the right side of the road, as he had been taught. About one mile from the trailhead, he was negotiating a blind corner when he collided with the cyclist.
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"The youth said he started turning the corner and boom, there was a mountain bike in front of him," Silva said.
Silva said the youth attempted to dump his bike when he saw the cyclist and the motorcycle also sustained significant damage.
"His father was just a little ways behind him," Silva said. According to both the father and son, the cyclist started yelling, cursing and asserting that the youth was at fault because he didn't negotiate the blind turn on the left side of the trail.
"That's when the father told his son he needed to not say anything and to go home. But the father stayed on the scene," Silva said.
According to the father's report, he repeatedly offered to help the cyclist, particularly because his bicycle was damaged and he could not ride it. The father said he offered to give the cyclist a ride down to the trailhead.
"In his words, the older man continued to swear and declined any assistance," Silva said.
The father then drove away. He did not report the incident.
"In his mind, it was just a riding accident," Silva said.
Once the Crime Stoppers alert was sent out, Silva said he received lots of calls with people offering information and assistance.
"Most of those calls came from the local motorcycle community," he said. "Motorcyclists up here are a tight community and they wanted to make sure that everyone is doing the right thing. They are kind of self-policing."
As a result of the Crime Stoppers tip, the motorcyclists involved in the accident were identified quickly. After they spoke with police and the subsequent investigation was completed, no criminal charges were filed in the case. Silva said there was no consideration of false reporting charges against the cyclist, noting that the man was traumatized by the incident and his report was not false, just incomplete.
For Silva, the case was a great example of how Crime Stoppers works.
"It couldn't have been more than 12 hours later when I got the call. It did exactly what Crime Stoppers is for — it provided important information," he said.
Silva noted that the original description of a hit-and-run accident proved to be an incorrect assessment of the situation, but that description was based on police getting only one side of the story.
"Crime Stoppers helped us determine what happened. It was the other side of the story that we needed," Silva said.