Aspen’s iconic brown van is going, going … gone |

Aspen’s iconic brown van is going, going … gone

Charles Agar/The Aspen Times
ALL | The Aspen Times

A four-wheeled local institution is no longer. Aspen’s iconic brown van – home to two longtime area residents – was a total loss Friday after it ran off the road. Around 1:15 p.m. Friday, witnesses saw the van traveling at low speed down Maroon Creek Road toward the T-Lazy 7 Ranch west of Aspen, police said. The van then accelerated and made a sharp right turn off the road, crushing a fence and striking a tree 10 inches in diameter.

“I thought my boyfriend was having a heart attack, and I reached over, and we went off the road,” said Jane Patterson, who was driving.Both Patterson and passenger Michael O’Gara walked away without major injuries.O’Gara, however, complained of chest pains, and an ambulance took him to Aspen Valley Hospital. Patterson refused medical care, so state police handcuffed her and took her to the hospital for medical evaluation as well.State patrol officer Denny O’Leary said that while no charges would be filed Friday afternoon, they would be likely at a later date.

Pitkin County deputy Jesse Steindler was first on scene and said he saw the couple standing on the passenger’s side of the vehicle. Steindler said he could smell alcohol near the vehicle.Patterson produced a license listing an address on Hyman Avenue, and provided a valid registration and proof of insurance for the vehicle.The van has been a common sight in the Aspen area over the years and frequented the likes of the City Market parking lot, as well as camping and parking areas along the stretch of Highway 82 up Independence Pass.”What’s unfortunate about this whole thing is that this is their home,” Steindler said, adding that area law enforcement has had encounters with the couple in the past for “innocuous” complaints such as illegal camping.

“Today the cause is more serious,” he said.Maroon Creek Road is a popular cycling route, and Steindler said the pair was lucky the van didn’t hit someone.”Whether it’s a wake-up call for them is going to be up to them,” Steindler said.Charles Agar’s e-mail address is

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