Trooper still in hospital, showing improvement
EAGLE-VAIL — Colorado State Patrol Trooper Eugene Hofacker was still in the hospital as of Monday morning, but his condition is getting better.
Hofacker was shot twice Thursday while performing a routine check on a vehicle stopped in Glenwood Canyon near the Bair Creek exit. The suspect, Thomas Albert Ornelas, was shot and killed by Trooper Shane Gosnell, who was riding with Hofacker at the time.
Nate Reid, of the Colorado State Patrol said the department can’t discuss where Hofacker was shot or what type of injuries he received.
“If — after this whole thing is over — he does interviews and he wants to talk about those injuries, he may,” Reid said. “But as an agency we won’t release that. … ‘His condition continues to improve’ is all I’ve been told and that he was still in the hospital.”
Hofacker and Gosnell were en route from the Eagle-Vail office of the Colorado State Patrol to a training conference in Glenwood Springs when they spotted Ornelas’ BMW stopped on the shoulder of Interstate 70. Less than 15 minutes later, Ornelas was dead and Hofacker was drifting in and out of consciousness, according to a dispatch recording from the incident.
Hofacker was rushed to Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs, where he received an emergency surgery that day and another a day later.
Hofacker’s LinkedIn profile lists him as being from Avon, where he’s currently a snowboard instructor for Vail Resorts, in addition to his duties as a trooper with the State of Colorado Department of Public Safety.
Paul Cuthbertson set out by himself around 3 p.m. Friday from the trailhead that leads up to the Polar Star Inn, according to his father, Mike, but never made it to the popular backcountry hut as a late-spring snowstorm moved in.