Man sentenced to three years after wrecking stolen car, jumping into Eagle River to escape police | VailDaily.com

Man sentenced to three years after wrecking stolen car, jumping into Eagle River to escape police

Justin Griffin had to be pulled from the Eagle River by police, after he refused their help all the while calling for help.

GYPSUM — Justin Kenneth Griffin was recently sentenced to three years in state prison after he led law enforcement officials on an eastbound chase through Garfield and Eagle counties, which ended when he abandoned a Ford Taurus he had stolen and wrecked and jumped into the Eagle River between Gypsum and Dotsero in an escape attempt.

It all started about 9:44 a.m. one May morning when a Front Range man spotted Griffin sitting on the shoulder beside the eastbound lane of Interstate 70 and stopped to help. First, Griffin told the man he had wrecked the Taurus, but when the man spotted no apparent dents, Griffin told him he was out of gas, police reports said.

The man hauled Griffin to a gas station and then back to his car and got him underway. Griffin asked for more gas, so the man led the way to a gas station, police reports said.

'A hater'

Griffin was very grateful, telling the man he would do anything to help him and that he had stolen the white Ford Taurus from a woman he said was "a hater."

According to police, after they left the gas station, Griffin convoyed with the man, forcing other motorists off the road and waving a pellet gun at other drivers. The Front Range man called the police.

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Griffin got off the highway in Gypsum and headed up Valley Road, where he drove more than 100 mph through a 20 mph school zone. Griffin quickly turned around and headed west on U.S. Highway 6 between Gypsum and Dotsero, police reports said.

By this time, Griffin had attracted attention from law enforcement agencies, who rolled spike strips across the road to blow out his tires and stop him. He hit a guardrail after rolling over the spike strips, police reports said.

Griffin then jumped out of his car and into the Eagle River.

Remember, this was May and the Eagle River was running fast and cold.

The police kept trying to help him, but Griffin refused — all while crying for help, police reports said.

Finally, after floating downriver for a mile and a half, Griffin grabbed one of the lifelines police had thrown to him. When he was out of the water, police searched the stolen car and found a bottle of Visine, nail clippers and a plastic pipe containing methamphetamine residue. Police also discovered that Griffin's drivers license was revoked.

Griffin pleaded guilty to felony charges.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.