Out of Fryingpan and into slammer for one hiker | AspenTimes.com

Out of Fryingpan and into slammer for one hiker

Graham Donnelly

EAGLE COUNTY – Eagle County giveth and Eagle County taketh away when it came to a Glenwood Springs man’s freedom Tuesday evening.

Members of West Eagle County Search and Rescue helped guide Graham Donnelly, 29, away from a precarious position in the backcountry right around dusk. Shortly after he reached safety, Donnelly was arrested by an Eagle County deputy sheriff for an unrelated criminal matter.

Donnelly was hiking with a female companion and a dog in the Seven Castles area when they reportedly got “cliffed out,” or stuck, because of steep terrain, according to Cleve Williams, a rescue leader with West Eagle County Search and Rescue. The hikers were unable to backtrack and weren’t equipped to spend the night in cold conditions, so they called 911 at about 4:30 p.m.

“They did the right thing,” Williams said, noting they gave the rescue team time to act before dark.

The rugged area where they were hiking is 5 miles east of Basalt in the Fryingpan River Valley. The terrain is in Eagle County.

Williams and three other team members hiked into the vicinity via Toner Creek and made intermittent cell phone contact with the female hiker. The searchers advised the woman, Donnelly and their canine companion to travel in an easterly direction, or up the Fryingpan Valley. The hikers eventually came across Taylor Creek Road and started down to the valley floor, Williams said. They united with the search team at about 8 p.m.

The search-and-rescue team had collected the hikers’ names while talking to the woman on the phone and passed the names on to an Eagle County deputy sheriff who was assisting in the operation. The deputy ran a routine clearance check on the parties and discovered Donnelly had two felony warrants out for his arrest, according to Shannon Cordingly, public information officer for the sheriff’s office.

Donnelly was arrested by the deputy later in the evening. The search-and-rescue team was unaware that Donnelly was going to be arrested.

It is typical for the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and many other law enforcement agencies to run clearance checks on parties they encounter in any type of incident. The prime reason for the check is to see if there are outstanding warrants for arrest.

One warrant for Donnelly was out of Eagle County for failure to comply with conditions of probation in a controlled substance case, according to Cordingly and a spokeswoman for the Eagle County District Attorney’s Office. A court file indicated the warrant was issued after the probation office filed a complaint, the District Attorney’s Office said. That indicates there was an alleged violation of terms of probation, the spokeswoman said, but the nature of the alleged violation couldn’t be determined from the court file.

The second warrant was for a failure to comply in a controlled substance case in Garfield County, authorities said.

Donnelly was taken to Eagle County Jail where he was being held Wednesday on a $20,000 bond, Cordingly said.


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