Reckless driver ends man’s Aspen fun |

Reckless driver ends man’s Aspen fun

Jason Auslander
The Aspen Times

Ryan Blastos moved to Aspen on Halloween 2013 after four years in the Marine Corps and, like many, immediately loved it.

“It was awesome,” he said. “I loved being in the mountains.”

He liked the snowboarding but began riding horses and immediately felt he’d found his calling as a guide for horseback riding and hunting trips.

But all that came to an end New Year’s Eve.

Blastos, 23, was valet-parking cars at the Hotel Jerome that night. It was between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m., and he had just parked a car behind the hotel near the intersection of Hallam and Aspen streets.

He was walking back to the hotel when a car slid around the corner onto Hallam. Before he could turn around to look at it, the car hit him in the lower back and pinned him against a parked car. The car — a black Subaru SUV or a black BMW SUV with Colorado license plates — then took off and kept going.

“I was just laying there in the street,” Blastos said. “So, I picked up my cowboy hat and somehow — I don’t know how I did it — walked back to the hotel.”

Not long after, he collapsed to the ground and co-workers called an ambulance. He later discovered that he had a herniated disc in his back and a fractured vertebrate. He was taken into surgery almost immediately because the disc was pressing down on a nerve and he couldn’t feel his leg, he said.

Since then, Blastos has undergone four more surgeries and is scheduled to have another soon. He said he had to sell his horse and isn’t sure if he will ever be able to ride again. He also said he doesn’t think he’ll be able to snowboard again.

“It’s kind of devastating to live in a ski town and not be able to participate,” he said.

Blastos also hasn’t been able to work since the accident because he can’t walk without a crutch, but he has been especially upset not to be able to lead horseback-riding tours this summer. And, to top it all off, police have not been able to find the car that hit him.

“I wish (the driver) would do the right thing and come forward,” he said. “I hope someone would finally own up to what they did.”

He said the best-case scenario for his long-term health is that he could get back 80 to 90 percent of his previous ability. But so far, there have been complications in the healing process, and it hasn’t been easy to keep looking on the bright side.

“But that’s what I have to keep doing every day,” he said. “This is going to impact me for the rest of my life. And it opens the door to more back problems (in the future).”

As for now, he said workers’ compensation through the Hotel Jerome has been paying his doctor bills and that staff at the hotel have been very supportive.

“I can’t thank (the Jerome) enough,” he said. “I’m going to stay in Aspen as long as I can afford to stay here.”

Anyone with any information about the accident can call Aspen police at 970-920-5400.