Man leads cops on wild chase

Joel StoningtonAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN Snowmass Village police arrested a convicted felon Monday after he allegedly stole four vehicles and used them to take area law-enforcement officials on a wild, five-hour chase through the Aspen area. Phillip Jordon Vigil’s alleged crime spree came to a crashing halt at the Aspen golf course, when what police allege was the fourth and final vehicle he stole hit the Aspen roundabout, skidded off Highway 82 and reversed down the bike path before landing in a ditch. Vigil, 27, of Denver, faces four charges of felony eluding, four counts of aggravated motor vehicle theft, leaving the scene of an accident, driving while license revoked for an alcohol-related offense and felon in possession of a firearm. He is scheduled to make his first appearance Tuesday in Pitkin County District Court.

The high-speed chases occurred over the course of several hours and resulted in two wrecked cars, two reverse-911 calls to Aspen residents and a shot fired by valley law enforcement. The string of events prompted the closing of the Aspen roundabout during the height of the morning rush hour.Vigil was wanted on at least two warrants for auto theft out of Denver, according to Aspen police spokesman Bill Linn. Further information regarding Vigil and the outstanding Denver warrants was not available Monday evening. The hunt for Vigil began early Monday, when Snowmass Village resident Shawn Taylor awoke to the sound of his ’97 Dodge Ram starting up in his driveway. Taylor said he hit the snooze button and that no more than five seconds later, he heard the truck drive off.”I ran to the back door to see which way they went,” said Taylor, adding he called 911 soon after. “I just saw the taillights on my truck hauling ass down Brush Creek.”A Pitkin County sheriff’s deputy then saw the Dodge Ram pass him near the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport. Minutes later, an Aspen officer tried to pull the truck over. The vehicle would not stop and continued up Castle Creek Road, doubled-back and then went up Maroon Creek Road.Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis confirmed one of his deputies fired a shot into the tire of the truck as it came back down Maroon Creek Road. After the vehicle did not stop, local law-enforcement officers stopped pursuit.”This guy was going very fast, he was going in the wrong lane and doing all sorts of dangerous things,” Linn said. “He was still very committed to getting away at all costs, with no concern for anyone else’s safety or his own.”The Dodge Ram was then found crashed into a tree at First and Francis streets in Aspen’s West End; it was unoccupied.Police believe Vigil then stole an unlocked bicycle and took it to Roaring Fork Road, near Cemetery Lane, where a custom-made Buell racing motorcycle was parked. Linn said the motorcycle was hot-wired; police were unsure whether the other stolen vehicles were hot-wired. Concerned that Vigil was on the loose in the West End, a reverse-911 call was made to neighboring homes and businesses warning people that a possibly dangerous man was in the area. Shortly before police spotted the Buell motorcycle, a second, toned-down reverse-911 call went out. More than 2 1/2 hours after the Dodge Ram was found, Snowmass Village police saw a motorcycle with a man fitting Vigil’s description driving down Brush Creek Road. They attempted to stop the motorcycle, but it continued on in excess of 80 mph. Police followed the motorcycle up Castle Creek Road until it veered off the road and crossed the Marolt pedestrian bridge. Aspen police later found the motorcycle on the 1200 block of East Cooper Avenue, where they believe Vigil ditched it before stealing a Jeep Grand Cherokee. That car was found undamaged near The Gant, according to Linn.With law enforcement from Aspen, Snowmass and Pitkin County blocking off local roads and officers in vehicles and on foot, Linn said witnesses reported seeing Vigil near The Gant.A witness then told police he saw a man fitting Vigil’s description leave the area in a blue Toyota pickup; a Snowmass Village officer saw the blue pickup near the Aspen post office soon after.The pickup ultimately sped up Main Street, followed by police, and then crashed into the roundabout and on to the adjacent bike path. The truck reversed down the bike path before crashing into a ditch.Vigil was arrested at 10:30 a.m. After a short stay at Aspen Valley Hospital, he was transported to the Pitkin County Jail and held on $67,000 bail. Linn refused to comment on whether drugs or alcohol were involved.