Sheriff: Man died before crashing in Snowmass Canyon
A 26-year-old Basalt man apparently died by suicide while his vehicle was driving down Highway 82 on Tuesday night, sources said Wednesday.
The man’s car was found by Pitkin County Sheriff’s deputies up against a jersey barrier in Snowmass Canyon in the downvalley left-hand lane of the highway at about 9:30 p.m., said Brad Gibson, an investigator with the Sheriff’s Office.
Gibson declined to say how the man died and said the case remained under investigation. Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo, however, said the man’s cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the head and that a handgun was found inside the vehicle.
“I know the young man,” DiSalvo said Wednesday. “He was a friend. He was a good person (and) truly more troubled than we noticed.”
He said it appeared to investigators that the man shot himself while the vehicle was still moving. The sedan he was driving continued approximately 1,000 more feet down the road before coming to rest against the barrier.
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Investigators have no indication that another person was in the locked vehicle at the time of the man’s death — deputies had to break a window to get in — and there was no indication that anyone was shooting in the canyon at the time, DiSalvo said.
The incident led deputies to close the downvalley lanes of Highway 82 from about 10:40 p.m. Tuesday to about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday.
DiSalvo declined to identify the man publicly, which is usually done by the cororner’s office. Pitkin County Coroner Dr. Steve Ayers did not return a phone message Wednesday seeking comment.
If you or someone you know is in crisis or considering suicide, there are resources available locally and nationally.
Colorado Crisis Services is a free, 24-hour organization that helps with mental health, substance abuse or emotional help. Confidential services are available at 1-844-493-8255 or text “TALK” to 38255 to speak to a trained professional. Reach them online at coloradocrisisservices.org.
Aspen Hope Center provides a free, 24-hour confidential Hopeline for anyone who needs help or is in a crisis. Reach the crisis line at 970-925-5858 (Aspen) or 970-306-4673 (Eagle River Valley).
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has a 24/7 support line available by calling 1-800-273-8255
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Mountain Rescue Aspen had a busy day Thursday responding to two separate incidents.