Floridians learn Pass not passable | AspenTimes.com
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Floridians learn Pass not passable

Naomi Havlen

Independence Pass won’t open to vehicle traffic until next weekend – a fact a Florida family learned the hard way on Tuesday.

According to a Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office report, a motorcyclist on a large Yamaha touring bike cut the chain to the closure gate on Highway 82 east of Aspen sometime on Tuesday. Police searched for the motorcyclist, who was last seen heading back into Aspen after taking a ride up the Pass. The suspect was never found.

In the meantime, though, police learned a silver sport utility vehicle had been seen passing through the open closure gate.

A deputy was sent to the gate and, after replacing the broken lock, continued up the Pass in search of the car that had driven through.

At mile marker 60, the deputy spotted a silver Suzuki with Florida plates heading back down toward Aspen. The driver told the sheriff’s deputy that he “didn’t understand why one gate was open and the other side was closed”; he had apparently made it over to the Twin Lakes side of the Pass only to find those gates closed.

The man, who was traveling with his wife and 5-year-old child, said they didn’t see the signs that indicated that the Pass was closed as they were “looking at the mountains.”

The deputy followed the family back down to Aspen, letting them through the gate and locking it behind them.

Independence Pass officially opens next Friday afternoon. To see the Pass before it opens to vehicle traffic – and without cutting the lock – bicycles can join in the 10th annual Ride for the Pass. The event is tomorrow and benefits the Independence Pass Foundation’s efforts to stabilize and revegetate roadsides on the Pass that have been damaged by erosion.

Riders of all abilities can register for the ride in person today at the Ute Mountaineer, 308 S. Mill St., or at Aspen Velo, 465 N. Mill St., in Aspen, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. The cost is $30 for individuals and $60 for families.

Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com


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