Strange Doings at 11,312 Feet
So far, 2016 has been a bizarre year for Monarch Pass. On Feb. 18 at 7:36 p.m., a weather station on the top of the pass recorded a gust of 148 mph, the highest ever recorded in Colorado by the National Weather Service. The previous record of 147 mph was recorded on Jan. 25, 1971, at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder.
The following day, police officers from Gunnison shot and injured a man after pursuing him over the pass into Chaffee County. Roy Dale Gilmore, 38, a state corrections “client” out of Oklahoma, gave officers a fake name and date of birth after being stopped driving a stolen Jeep Cherokee in downtown Gunnison. He then fled, leading officers on a chase over the pass, where he was located on a county road. Officers involved in the shooting were with the Gunnison Police Department and Gunnison County Sheriff’s Office, and were placed on administrative leave, pending investigation.
On Feb. 22, the pass was closed in both directions for nearly 3 1/2 hours after three semitrailers and an SUV were involved in a collision during heavy snowfall. While investigating the wreck, a Colorado State Patrol corporal’s patrol car was struck by another truck that came sliding down the pass.
The next day, Feb. 23, the pass was closed yet again, this time for 1 1/2 hours after a Texas woman with a loaded .45 handgun barricaded herself in a semi-trailer at the top of the pass after briefly taking the male driver hostage.
After the woman fell asleep in the cab, the driver was able to escape and contact authorities. A tactical team was deployed and was preparing to deploy tear gas to extract the woman when she surrendered. She was taken into custody by the Gunnison County Sheriff’s Office for investigation of kidnapping. The driver was also taken into custody for unrelated warrants.
Bad Detour Choices
Speaking of passes, hundreds of vehicles and semitrailers were turned away after lining up at the Independence Pass closure gate in an effort to detour around I-70 through Glenwood Canyon on Feb. 17.
The canyon was closed due to a massive rockslide and drivers mistakenly took to their iPhone and Google maps to find an alternate route, only to find the pass closed for the winter. Some of the semitrailers drivers had to disconnect their trailers in order to turn around at the closure. Signs between Glenwood Springs and Aspen warning of the closure of Independence Pass were apparently ignored. At the time of this writing, the I-70 closure remains, the longest in the history of Glenwood Canyon.
No Pro Challenge in 2016
With the main backers of the race stepping aside, supporters of the USA Pro Challenge bike race have decided not to hold the race this year.
Rick and Richard Schaden, who originally launched the race in 2011, have spent about $20 million to fund it. Race organizers are trying to find new sponsors in order to hold the world-class event in 2017.
Big Concert Proposed for BV
Madison House Presents, the outfit that brought the Gentlemen of the Road concerts to Salida in 2015, are proposing a four-day music festival to a ranch outside Buena Vista, Aug. 4-7, which is expected to draw 20,000 music fans.
Madison House and coproducer, AEG Live, hope to make the concert, held at the Meadow Farm Ranch, an annual event. The ranch is owned by the Selby family, of which Jed Selby, the developer of the South Main project, is a member. Chaffee County commissioners are expected to approve the event. Headliners have yet to be announced.
Sheriff’s Deputy Killed While Serving Eviction Notice
A 13-year veteran of the Park County Sheriff’s Office, Cpl. Nate Carrigan, died on Feb. 24 while attempting to serve an eviction notice in Bailey. Two other deputies were shot during the incident. A suspect, Martin Worth, a former Colorado Senate candidate, was shot and killed by officers.
Possible Suspect in Cold Case
A suspect has been identified in the cold case homicide and disappearance of Beverly England, who was last seen alive in Salida in 1980.
Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze has confirmed that the suspect lives in the San Luis Valley, but did not provide a name. New DNA testing in October 2015 confirmed that bones recovered from the Mount Shavano area in 1992 were those of England. Dale England, her husband at the time of her disappearance, has been eliminated as a suspect.
Belt Buckle Holds Clues
Another discovery of bones has led some to believe them to be those of missing Mountain Bike Hall-of-Famer Mike Rust.
The former Saguache resident disappeared in 2009 after coming home to find his residence burglarized. He told a friend by phone he was going to look for the thieves and was never heard from again. His motorcycle was recovered a little more than a month later about 20 miles east of Saguache. A tip led law enforcement to some human bones found Jan. 8, only five miles east of Rust’s home.
Although law enforcement officers are waiting for DNA results from the bones, a unique belt buckle made from a bike sprocket found along with the remains has convinced the family that they belong to Rust.
Sick Mountain Lion Found at Trailhead
A famished mountain lion who wandered onto the Kebler trailhead west of Crested Butte was euthanized by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) officials.
The animal was found sitting among snowmobiles at the trailhead on Jan. 11. As people began arriving on the scene, it did not move or attempt to flee. The 2- to 3-year-old male lion appeared emaciated and had porcupine quills covering its face. It was missing fur on all four paws, and a third of its tail was frozen, according to the Gunnison Country Times.
Due to its level of exhaustion and overall condition, CPW made the decision to put the animal down.
A mobile home in Colorado Springs burned down on Feb. 12 after four dogs at the residence attempted to retrieve a pizza box and chicken wings from a stovetop, accidentally activating the control knob for the gas burner.
Two of the dogs perished in the blaze. The human occupants were not at home when the fire started.
God Save the King
A man arrested on drunk driving charges in Longmont Feb. 8 claimed diplomatic immunity after telling police he was the king of Scotland. Nicholas James, 35, faces possible charges of DUI and drug possession after driving nearly a mile after the first attempt by officers to stop him.
James, who insisted he should be referred to as the “Heir to the Throne of Scotland” and “King Solomon,” refused a blood test, claiming his blood was “golden.”
• The city of Leadville has been awarded $18,500 for a historic survey of Harrison Avenue by History Colorado. Park County received $10,000 for a historic preservation survey of the Fairplay town center. Historic St. Elmo & Chalk Creek Canyon, Inc., recieved a $48,777 grant from the History Colorado State Historical Fund.
• Nate Solder, New England Patriots offensive lineman and Buena Vista native, has announced that his infant son is battling a rare form of kidney cancer.
• “Grandma Ida” Archer, a fixture for nearly 50 years at Gunnison High School home sporting events, died on Jan. 2 at the age of 86.
• U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, who represents the 5th Congressional District, announced on Feb. 17 he will run for reelection. He’s been keeping that seat warm since 2007.
• CU-Boulder Professor Patty Limerick has been named to serve as the new Colorado State Historian.
• The Florence City Council approved lifting the ban on marijuana and hemp testing facilities on Feb. 16.
• The Arkansas River Stage and Rail Trail was named as one of the governor’s 16 high-priority projects for 2016.
• Joe Hergert, former Salida High School football coach, passed away Jan. 17 at the age of 79. He led the team to two state AA championships.
“I hate to sound like I’m pushing this thing, but we really had no problem with this. There’s really not a lot of negatives to talk about.” – Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze, on the proposed four-day summer music festival in Buena Vista. The Denver Post, Feb. 16, 2016
“We believe the remains of our brother have been found. The belt buckle was very unique. I’ve never seen another one like it.” – Fountain Hills resident Karl Rust, brother of missing cyclist Mike Rust. – The Denver Post, Jan. 14, 2016