Man found behind Basalt H.S. arrested

Jason Auslander
The Aspen Times

A 45-year-old man found sitting in an SUV listening to music behind Basalt High School on Friday night was arrested for DUI and motor vehicle theft, according to court documents.

Chad Cunningham of Arizona told police he had a verbal agreement with the owner of the 2006 Toyota 4Runner allowing him to keep the vehicle as collateral until the owner paid him a debt, according to a police report filed in District Court in Aspen.

However, the SUV was reported stolen to the Santa Fe Police Department three or four days before, the report states.

A woman who first called dispatchers told police she was walking along the dirt road behind the high school when the man in the SUV offered her water. She declined the offer, but the man made the same offer a few minutes later and tried to engage her in conversation, according to the police report.

“She found the man strange,” the report states.

When a Pitkin County sheriff’s deputy investigated about 6:30 p.m., he found the SUV parked on a road marked “authorized vehicles only.” Cunningham was sitting in the partially reclined front seat with the driver’s door open and the stereo playing, the report states.

“Cunningham had his feet out the open window of the open door,” according to the report.

Cunningham admitted drinking alcohol, had slurred speech and was unsteady on his feet while speaking with the deputy. He declined sobriety tests and refused to take breath or blood alcohol tests, the report states.

Cunningham was charged with motor vehicle theft, a felony, and DUI.