High-speed chase west of Gypsum ends with suspect in river, helicopter assistance
GYPSUM — A man who thought jumping into the Eagle River was a viable plan to flee from law enforcement officials Wednesday morning, May 16, ended up regretting that decision.
Wednesday night he was in custody and in the hospital after his ill advised escape plan.
According to Sgt. Rob Madden of the Colorado State Patrol, a REDDI (Report Every Drunk Driver Immediately) report was called into the Vail dispatch center at 9:44 a.m. Wednesday and based on the information from the caller, a Colorado State Patrol trooper was able to identify the vehicle and begin pursuit. However, because of safety concerns, as the white Ford sedan approached more populated areas downvalley, the trooper elected to halt what had become a high-speed chase.
As he monitored continued reports regarding sightings of the vehicle, the trooper positioned himself at the Gypsum roundabout, with plans to deploy a stop strip. The vehicle raced through the area before the trooper could set up the device but as the driver sped westbound on U.S. Highway 6, he crashed into a guardrail. At that point he jumped from the car and started to run away.
Change of heart
Eventually the suspect jumped into the Eagle River and began what became a 5 mile float that lasted for 45 minutes.
According to Sgt. Madden, during his time in the river, several attempts were made to retrieve the man from the water. Initially the suspect avoided rescue devices, but as his time in the cold water extended, he apparently had a change of heart.
“At the end, he was reaching out and asking for help,” Madden said. “It was a long time and a long distance in the water. He experienced issues from being in the cold water for so long.”
When the suspect was brought to shore, he was on the south side of the river — the opposite side from the road and from medical transport. A Colorado Army National Guard High Altitude Aviation Training Site helicopter was in the area and provided transport for emergency medical services personnel who assisted with the incident. Vail Mounty Rescue and local law enforcement were able to evacuate the suspect via raft to the north side of the river.
Sgt. Madden said the suspect was then transported to the hospital where he was placed in custody awaiting both charges and identification.
Gov. Jared Polis has lauded Summit County’s health care purchasing collaborative as a “transformative” step toward lowering the cost of health care. Officials in Eagle County are now hoping they can adopt a similar model for residents here.