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Man suspected of firing pistol from moving vehicle in Glenwood Canyon taken into custody

EAGLE COUNTY — On Monday at approximately 12:54 p.m., the Colorado State Patrol and Eagle County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of a person shooting from a moving vehicle while traveling on Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon.

The initial incident occurred on I-70 between Glenwood Springs and the No Name exit while traveling eastbound. Witnesses reported a male passenger in a 2008 Ford Expedition with Utah plates had pointed a gun out the window and fired one round into the air. The vehicle continued eastbound on I-70 through Glenwood Canyon.

Troopers intercepted the vehicle as it approached the Gypsum exit and conducted a high-risk stop just west of the Eagle exit. Both eastbound and westbound lanes of I-70 were shut down during the stop for safety reasons and then reopened once all the occupants of the Ford were detained.

After interviewing all of the subjects in the vehicle, Troopers arrested Ryan Johnson, 43, from Fairview, Utah. Johnson was suspected to be under the influence or alcohol at the time. Troopers also seized a .22 caliber handgun.

Johnson was booked into the Eagle County Detention Center for prohibited use of a weapon and reckless endangerment. There were no reported injuries.

Investigation underway after two ‘magnificent, large’ bull elk poached in Rocky Mountain National Park

Investigators from Rocky Mountain National Park are on the hunt for poachers this week after a pair of elk were illegally shot and killed in the park over the weekend.

Later Sunday afternoon officials from Rocky Mountain National Park confirmed that an investigation is currently underway after two bull elk were poached in separate incidents earlier in the month. The first poaching incident is believed to have occurred during the night of Sept. 11 or the early morning hours of Sept. 12.

“Park rangers discovered a large bull elk had been poached on Trail Ridge Road near Milner Pass,” a park representative stated. “This bull’s head had been severed and the carcass remained.”

The second incident is believed to have occurred during the night of Sept. 21 or the early morning hours of Sept. 22 near Ute Crossing Trail south of Forest Canyon Overlook.

“Park visitors reported a dead bull elk next to Trail Ridge Road,” officials stated.

Officials made no statements regarding whether or not they believe the two incidents are connected. All hunting is prohibited within the boundaries of Rocky Mountain National Park.

“Both of these elk were magnificent large bulls,” a park official stated. “Tens of thousands of park visitors have viewed and photographed these bulls. The individual(s) involved with these egregious poaching incidents have robbed park visitors from this experience and killed two strong bull elk during the rutting season. Please help the park protect wildlife by reporting any suspicious activity.”

Rangers from Rocky Mountain National Park are urging anyone with information on these incidents, or any other poaching incidents, in the park to call or text the National Park Service Investigative Services Bureau at 888-653-0009 or call Operation Game Thief at 1-800-332-4155. Park officials noted the Milner Pass group of elk from which one bull was poached have frequented the area recently.

“Park rangers are asking for any photographs taken of bull elk near Milner Pass,” officials stated. “Please email those to nps_isb@nps.gov or post on the park’s Facebook page at RockyNPS.”

Individuals providing information that leads to an arrest may receive a reward.

Beetle-kill tree falls, injures teenager near Steamboat Springs

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A tree fell and injured a 16-year-old girl on private land off Routt County Road 44A on Saturday.

The girl’s father told rescuers that she had been sitting on a log when a gust of wind knocked over a beetle-killed lodgepole pine, which fell on the girl, according to Routt County Search and Rescue President Darrel Levingston.

The girl received non-life threatening injuries to her back and leg.

Three Search and Rescue volunteers rescued the girl, carrying her to the county road, where she met a Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue ambulance. The ambulance transported her to UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center.

Levingston reminded the public to look around for dead trees when choosing a spot to rest while recreating outdoors.

“With the amount of standing dead trees we have in our area due to the beetle kill and other events, people really need to be cautious of and be aware of their surroundings when they’re out in the woods,” he said. “Sometimes, it’s best just to maybe walk another 100 yards before you stop and rest to get to a safer area.”

Wildfires in northern Colorado expected to be active Sunday

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Incident command on the Silver Creek and Ryan fires expect an active fire day Sunday. A localized red flag warning is in place Sunday in the area of both fires, mostly in Jackson and Grand counties.

Silver Creek Fire

The Silver Creek Fire grew from 14,324 acres to 18,175 acres Saturday, but this increase was largely due to planned burnout operations.

“Be aware of possible smoke that’s crossing (U.S. Highway) 40,” said Kathy Thibodaux, a public information officer on the fire. She said people traveling on U.S. 40 should take safety precautions like keeping their headlights on, following the posted speed limit and being aware of fire traffic.

This growth and the column of heavy smoke that was visible from the Steamboat Springs area on Saturday was the result of a successful burnout operation on the northern and eastern flanks of the fire, according to Inciweb.

Crews used hand and aerial ignitions to burn off fuels in front of the wildfire, connecting fire lines that were constructed previously in the week.

The fire lines used were constructed along easier-to-defend terrain containing lighter fuels, such as grass and sage, instead of heavy timber.

The fire is estimated to be 40 percent contained.

On Sunday, firefighters again plan to light off unburned fuels within the fire’s perimeter, removing remaining vegetation and reducing future risk of fire.

Smoke is expected to rise from the western edge of the fire as it backs through the heavy timber in Sarvis Creek Wilderness Area.

Unseasonably warm and dry weather provided the perfect conditions for Saturday’s burnout, according to Inciweb. Lower overnight humidity and a light breeze prepared the grass and sage for burning early in the day.

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning Sunday due to the continuing low humidity, high wind speeds and temperatures nearing 70 degrees. An air quality health advisory has been issued by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for western Grand County.

Evacuation notices issued by the Grand County Sheriff’s Department are still in effect for Latigo Ranch and Yost Ranch. The communities of Old Park, Gore Lakes, Lake Agnes and Rabbit Ears Village remain under pre-evacuation notice.

U.S. Forest Service Road 100, also known as Buffalo Park Road, and Forest Road 101 are closed to public traffic along with Forest Road 250 from Forest Road 100 to the intersection of Forest Road 102. U.S. 40 and Colorado Highway 134 remain open.

Travelers are advised to visit CoTrip.org for more information about road closures and delays.

The Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Grand County Sheriff have issued area closures that continue to be in effect for the immediate fire area. All closure areas and maps can be found on the Silver Creek Fire’s InciWeb page at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5985/

Ryan Fire

The Ryan Fire on the Colorado and Wyoming border grew from 2,986 acres to 8,685 acres Saturday. Containment has not been established on the fire. On Sunday, firefighters are focused on protecting structures threatened by the fire.

“We are expecting the fire to continue to grow today due to the weather conditions,” said Ryan Fire public information officer Robert Nelson. “The wind speeds are supposed to be up some, and we are in that red flag warning for this fire area due to dryness of the fuels, the low relative humidity and those wind speeds.”

The fire is burning in the Routt and Medicine Bow National Forests.

Carbon County, Wyoming, firefighters worked through the night on the northeast side to protect private property and structures. Sunday, they are working to protect homes in Jerry Park on the Wyoming side of the fire. On the fire’s western side, the Hog Park Guard Station is also threatened.

The growth was due to low overnight humidity Friday evening, according to Inciweb. The fire was very active on the east and northeast side early Saturday.

By mid-morning, the larger fire had started sparking spot fires on its perimeter.

The spread was mostly influenced by the terrain and the beetle-killed lodgepole pine fueling the fire, rather than weather conditions, though a localized red flag warning was in place, according to Inciweb.

Sunday is expected to be another day of active burning due to weather and fuel type. Firefighters expect the fire to create spot fires over long distances and spread at a high rate.

The closure in both Medicine Bow and Routt National Forests have been expanded. An interactive map of closures has been created for hunters.

The Ryan Fire area closure primarily affects hunters with licenses in game management unit 161 in Colorado, and elk area 13 and deer area 81 in Wyoming. Hunters are encouraged to obtain a copy of the area closure map before heading into the field.

For up to date information on fire behavior and closures, visit https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6210/.

Bear attack reported near Golden at state park; one person injured

Colorado wildlife officials are investigating a report of a bear attack that injured a person Wednesday on a trail in Golden Gate Canyon State Park outside Golden.

Deputies with the Gilpin County Sheriff's Office responded about 1:20 p.m. to the Coyote Trail in the park to a report of a bear attack, said Cherokee Black, the agency's spokeswoman. The trailhead is near Colorado 46 and Mountain Base Road. She said a person was injured, but had few other details.

"I know they were injured, but I don't know the extent of the injuries," Black said.

The report came in about 1 p.m. Wednesday, Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman Jason Clay said as he drove to the park about 14 miles northwest of Golden. He couldn't immediately confirm what injuries occurred.

For more on this story, go to denverpost.com.

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Thousands of dollars stolen at Run Rabbit Run race in Steamboat

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Run Rabbit Run racers were not the only ones to pull a fast one Saturday.

Thousands of dollars in cash were stolen from the race’s merchandise tent, money that race organizers had planned to give to nonprofits.

As Race Director Paul Sachs was announcing the awards ceremony at Steamboat Resort, volunteers realized the cash bag had gone missing from the tent where organizers were selling race merchandise. Sachs said the volunteer working the merchandise tent looked one way, turned back around and found the bag was gone.

Sachs said there is no way to know for sure how much cash was taken, but he estimated it was somewhere between $4,000 and $5,000.

That money was intended for numerous nonprofit organizations that helped put on the race. Volunteers from a number of organizations volunteer at aid stations and serve in other roles during the race. In return, race organizers donate profits from registration fees and merchandise sales to the nonprofits. These organizations include youth sports organizations, early childhood learning centers and scout troops.

“We put this on for the runners, and we give everything else to charity,” Sachs said. “It’s money that’s not going to be available for the charities that we donate to.”

Sachs interrupted the awards presentation with an announcement asking the crowd for tips, but nobody had seen what happened. After the audience heard about the theft, several people wrote checks to the organizations Run Rabbit Run planned to support.

"It was very disheartening,” Sachs said. “We hope somebody might do the right thing and let us know if they know what happened."

Between donations and the money generated by registration fees, Sachs said the race will still be able to give about $35,000 to $40,000 to nonprofits as well as donations of food to youth organizations and clothing to LiftUp of Routt County.

Revenue from registration fees also allowed the race to pay out about $62,000 in prizes to runners.

Without any suspects, Steamboat Springs Police Department Sgt. Rich Brown said the police are investigating a crime with no leads. The amount of cash stolen would carry felony level charges if prosecuted.

Anyone with information about the incident should contact the Steamboat Police Department at 970-879-4344 or Routt County Communications at 970-879-1144.

To reach Eleanor Hasenbeck, call 970-871-4210, email ehasenbeck@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @elHasenbeck.

Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper makes step toward 2020 presidential run

DENVER — Colorado’s Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper on Monday took his most concrete step yet toward running for president by forming a federal campaign committee that can raise money to help candidates nationwide.

Hickenlooper’s so-called Leadership PAC, called “Giddy Up PAC,” will be led by Brad Komar, who ran the governor’s 2014 re-election campaign. Its formation allows the governor to distribute money to campaigns in other states, usually a hallmark of politicians with presidential aspirations.

Hickenlooper, 65, has long been floated as a possible 2020 presidential contender. He’s a popular two-term governor of swing state Colorado who has a colorful background as an oil geologist and brewpub owner.

But his background in the energy sector and defense of the industry could be a drag in a Democratic primary, as could his more centrist stances in office. He has already visited the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire as his second term as governor winds down.

Hickenlooper is term-limited out of office at the end of this year. In an interview with Colorado Public Radio on Monday, he said he’d make a decision on whether to run for president after that.

New Grand County property owners find surprise: 200 sticks of dynamite

Some Grand County property owners found a big surprise waiting for them on land they purchased in the Grand Lake area when they discovered over 200 sticks of sweating dynamite last week.

Officials from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office were alerted Sept. 10 to the discovery of over 200 sticks of sweating dynamite on a piece of property in the Three Lakes region. Sweating is when old dynamite releases its nitroglycerin and can pool and form crystals on the sticks.

Property owners who had purchased the land found the dynamite while looking through a bunker that was located on the parcel.

Lt. Dan Mayer, spokesman for the Grand County Sheriff’s Office, referred to the incident as “low key” and noted the Jefferson County Bomb squad was called in to assist with disposal of the dynamite.

Four fires burning in northwestern Colorado, including new one near Wyoming border

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A seemingly constant drone of helicopters fighting wildfires hummed over the Yampa Valley this weekend.

Crews are now fighting four fires in Northwest Colorado. For fire and closure information, visit inciweb.com.

Ryan Fire

The Ryan Fire was first reported Saturday night, and is burning in more than 500 acres of live and beetle-killed lodgepole pine, said Routt National Forest spokesperson Aaron Voos.

The fire is originated in the northern tip of the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area, but is growing rapidly and moving toward the Wyoming border. It has passed U.S. Forest Service Road 80, which runs parallel to the border and less than a mile from the state line.

Fire staff and law enforcement are working to evacuate game management unit 161, which includes hunters and campers along the entirety of Forest Service Road 80 in Colorado.

In Wyoming, elk area 13 and deer area 81 are being evacuated. This includes the Hog Park area and the area south of Forest Road 496 from its intersection with Forest Road 550 east and north to its intersection with Forest Roads 409 and 404.

No homes have been evacuated. The fire does is not immediately threatening structures.

The fire is growing quickly. Helicopters fighting the Ryan Fire were grounded Sunday afternoon in light of high winds.

“The winds are high enough that they haven't been able to fly aerial resources,” Voos said. “Ground crews aren’t very effective with a rapidly moving fire in fuels like this. Even though we would like to, we're not able to suppress the fire at this point, so right now what we're doing is focusing on evacuations.”

The Rocky Mountain Black Type 2 Incident Command team will soon take over incident command of the fire, Voos said.

“That says a lot, for a fire that was just reported last night,” he said.

The fire was initially called the Nih Fire. It is burning about 6 miles from the Routt and Jackson County border.

Silver Creek Fire

The Silver Creek Fire was burning in 11,405 acres and 35 percent contained Sunday. This is about 800 acres larger than the area reported Saturday and the same containment level.

U.S. Highway 40 remained open Sunday. Colorado Highway 134 is closed from mile marker 17 to 27.

“I believe that things are looking better today than they have been as far as the possibility of a highway closure,” Voos said. He added that fire activity — and smoke produced by the fire — decreased Sunday.

Latigo Guest Ranch, the Yost Ranch and homes in the Gore Lakes and Old Park area have been evacuated. The Milk Creek State Wildlife Area has also been evacuated to get hunters out of the fire’s projected path.

Pre-evacuation notices have been issued for Rabbit Ears Village, Bear Mountain and the Lake Agnes area.

Protecting structures in the areas evacuated was a priority for firefighters Sunday. A group working to protect structures was strategizing where to place sprinkler systems in the Lake Agnes and Latigo Ranch area. Firefighters were patrolling Latigo Ranch, the 100 Road and the U.S. 40 corridor from Tyler Mountain to Rabbit Ears Village.

Grand County residents were encouraged to enroll with the county’s emergency alert system, so emergency managers could reach them quickly if evacuations become necessary.

Two hundred seventy-five firefighters battled the fire where it is safe to do so Sunday. The fire had priority for air support in the region. Two helicopters that can carry up to 700 gallons of water and fire suppressant and two helicopters that carry up to 100 gallons are supporting firefighters on the ground. Three air tankers also are available for use as appropriate.

According to Inciweb, the fire burned on the interior of the perimeter Saturday, with fire activity slowly backing northwest into the Sarvis Creek Wilderness Area.

Firefighters worked to clear grasses, brush and timber that could fuel flames along U.S. Forest Service Road 100, known as Buffalo Park Road. Bulldozers and two Hotshot crews created fire line in the area of the Muddy Creek Drainage.

Grand County graders worked Sunday to open up old roads west of the Albert Reservoir. Firefighters are also connecting meadows and already burned and blackened forest areas to create additional fire lines near the Red Dirt Reservoir to protect private property.

For more information on the fire and associated closures, contact the fire information line from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. at 307-840-9810.

Boone Draw and Three Wash fires

The Boone Draw Fire, the larger of two fires burning in western Moffat County, was reported at 8,683 acres and 40 percent containment Sunday.

The fire is burning sagebrush, grass, pinyon and juniper on private and Bureau of Land Management land north of Colorado Highway 318. The fire has closed Moffat County roads 46, 67 and 52. Colo. 318 remains open.

The fire is burning in the southwest portion of the Sand Wash Basin Wild Horse Herd Management Area. People can still view horses by accessing the basin to the north using Moffat County Road 75.

The fire threatens wild horse and greater sage grouse habitat and cultural resources.

Crews burnt out the southwestern flank of the fire Saturday, and they worked to contain the fire’s northeastern flank by clearing heavy vegetation along the fire’s edge.

The Three Wash Fire was reported contained at 369 acres at 2 p.m. Sunday.

 

Parents appealing son’s Vail skier death case, say judges erred

EAGLE — Almost everything about the judge and jury’s decisions in a Vail Mountain skier death case is being appealed.

Dr. Louise Ingalls and Dr. Steve Conlin, parents of Taft Conlin, say judges in Broomfield and Eagle counties erred in several rulings. Court documents filed with the Colorado Court of Appeals declared their intention to appeal those rulings and the jury’s verdict, which was based on those judges’ rulings.

Their appeal says the courts were wrong on five overarching issues:

1. Change of venue order, moving the trial from Broomfield to Eagle County.

2. Pretrial orders by District Court Judge Fred Gannett.

3. Rulings during trial before the jury.

4. Erroneous jury instructions.

5. Erroneous verdict form that resulted in a defense verdict.

SIX YEARS SO FAR

Ingalls and Conlin filed their case in 2012, months after their son was killed in an in-bounds avalanche on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012, while skiing Prima Cornice.

Two gates provide access to Prima Cornice. The upper gate was closed, but the lower gate was not. Taft and a group of friends entered that lower gate and sidestepped up.

Taft started down and took several turns before he was swept away in the avalanche that killed him.

The case worked its way through courts in Eagle and Broomfield counties and was put on hold while the state Supreme Court ruled in the case of another inbounds avalanche death in Winter Park.

BASIS OF THE APPEAL

Ingall and Conlin’s appeal asserts that the ski company did not notify the public that by closing the upper gate, it intended to close that part of Prima Cornice between the two gates.

After a nine-day trial, on Wednesday, June 20, 2018, the jury found in favor of the ski company.

Through their attorney, Jim Heckbert, with the Denver firm Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine, Ingalls and Conlin say Gannett erred when he allowed evidence during the trial that they say was “misleading, inadmissible or irrelevant.” They also say Gannett erred when he “improperly excluded evidence” and when they were denied a request for a different judge.

VAIL RESORTS  WANTS PARENTS TO PAY COSTS

Vail Resorts says its costs to defend the case were an “approximated $1 million.”

Of that, Vail Resorts says its recoverable costs total $173,295.63. Traditionally in Colorado, the losing party in a civil lawsuit pays some of the prevailing party’s costs.

“In light of plaintiff’s pursuit of an appeal, our filing is simply a preservation of our rights as the prevailing party to seek reasonable court costs. We remain hopeful for a quick appellate process and ultimate closure of the case,” Vail Resort said in a statement.

In their request, the ski company says the case was long and complex and included 40 depositions, as well as expert witnesses. The ski company is asking Eagle County District Court to order the payment.

“As the prevailing party, Vail is entitled to the reasonable costs it incurred in litigating this case,” their request says.

They’ll have to wait, Heckbert said.

“Any order to pay costs is held in abeyance until the appeal is decided,” Heckbert said.