Man is critical after falling from bridge
Aspen Times Staff Writer
An unidentified man was seriously injured early Tuesday morning after falling more than 100 feet from the Maroon Creek Bridge.
Aspen police were sent to the bridge around 2:15 a.m. on a report of a man standing in the road and stopping traffic. A RFTA bus driver on her last run of the night then alerted dispatchers that a man standing in the middle of the highway had fallen over the side of the bridge.
“She came to a stop and observed him go off the bridge,” said Kent Blackmer, a RFTA operations manager.
The man, who was carrying no identification, was in critical condition Tuesday night.
Blackmer said he had not seen the driver’s report of the incident and was not sure whether she saw the man jump or fall accidentally. However, police currently believe he did not jump.
“We do not believe at this time that this was a suicide attempt. It was probably accidental,” said Assistant Police Chief Glenn Schaffer, citing witness information.
Police found him unconscious beneath the bridge. The Aspen Fire Department and Mountain Rescue Aspen were called in to help retrieve the man, who fell approximately 106 feet and landed on a sheet of ice covering Maroon Creek.
Aspen Deputy Fire Chief Orrin Moon said the department called in its swift-water rescue team due to the danger of the man breaking through the ice and falling into the river. Members of the Snowmass fire department brought an ice rescue suit as well as two firefighters, making a total of 13 rescuers.
“When we arrived on scene we carried equipment down the hill via the bike path or, as it is now, the ski path, off of the golf course side [of the gully],” Moon said. “We got to the victim by putting the 35-foot ladder across the river horizontally.”
Moon said it took approximately 25 minutes to reach the victim and carry him out to an ambulance.
The man was taken to Aspen Valley Hospital at 4:05 a.m., then flown to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction at 7:30 a.m. He was listed in critical condition at the time of the transfer.
A spokesman for St. Mary’s said he was still in critical condition Tuesday evening, but was unable to provide additional information concerning his injuries. Because the man was not carrying identification, police and hospital administrators were hesitant to release details, the spokesman said.
Aspen police are currently seeking help in identifying the man, who is described as white in his mid- to late-20s, with short blond hair. He was wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt, a dark T-shirt and jeans. Those with information regarding the case are asked to call police at 920-5400.
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Peter Arnold’s playing career ended after high school, but his time on the ice continues a few decades later. A longtime USA Hockey official and new Aspen resident, Arnold is searching for the next generation of hockey referees among the youth ranks here in the Roaring Fork Valley.