Suspects fled after Utah state patroller smelled pot

Jason Auslander
The Aspen Times

Two men whose attempt Tuesday to flee from law enforcement in two states ended in the mud of the Fryingpan Valley were likely transporting marijuana, police sources said Wednesday.

Only the driver was arrested, however, said Colorado State Patrol Trooper Nate Reed. Dontrell Taylor, 27, was charged with felony eluding, reckless endangerment, reckless driving, speeding, following too closely and making unsafe lane changes, he said.

A Utah state trooper initially pulled over a Nissan sedan that Taylor was driving for speeding west of the Utah-Colorado border on Interstate 70 about 2 p.m., said Sgt. Todd Royce of the Utah Department of Public Safety.

The trooper received identification from the driver and passenger at that time, then noticed an odor of marijuana coming from the car and asked the men to get out, Royce said. The driver then put the car back in gear and sped off, he said, though the officer still had their IDs.

The officer got back in his car to chase the Nissan and drove up the road a bit to find a black duffel bag sitting in the middle of I-70, Royce said. The bag contained about three pounds of marijuana, though Royce didn’t know if the officer saw the men throw it from the car.

A deputy sheriff joined the chase, and two troopers ahead of the car tried unsuccessfully to use spikes to stop the Nissan, he said. When the chase reached speeds of 125 mph, the Utah Highway Patrol called off the pursuit because it was too dangerous for other motorists and because they had the men’s identification, Royce said.

Troopers then notified the Colorado State Patrol, he said.

Colorado State Patrol officers attempted to pull over the car twice on I-70 but the driver was able to elude them, Reed said. Colorado State Patrol notified Roaring Fork Valley law enforcement agencies that the vehicle had exited I-70 at Glenwood Springs at 4:39 p.m., according to police scanner transmissions.

The men likely turned off the interstate because of the rockslide in Glenwood Canyon.

The Nissan next was reported speeding past the Aspen Glen subdivision on Highway 82, and law enforcement vehicles were able to tail it when it turned up the Fryingpan Valley.

The Nissan became stuck one mile up the muddy Eagle-Thomasville Road in Pitkin County, authorities said.

The passenger, who was not identified, was released, Reed said.