Basalt teen at wheel in high-speed chase
Post Independent Staff
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – For about four minutes Monday, this sleepy town could have almost been mistaken for Los Angeles.
At 4:45 p.m. Monday, local police radios spluttered information about a white 1986 Ford Bronco 2 swerving northbound on Grand Avenue near Taco Bell.
Nearby police officers heard the call and gave chase.
“The officer followed it. . He turned on his lights, then his siren, but there was no response,” Glenwood Springs police chief Terry Wilson said Tuesday.
Seconds into the chase, the erratic driver hit the gas in an attempt to evade the cops.
“The car punched it around the 900 block of Grand,” Wilson said, adding that the sport utility vehicle was doing about 45 mph when it lurched into the opposite lane.
“Then he went down wing street,” Wilson said. “He literally clipped the curb, just missed the bridge abutment and laid some pretty significant skids.”
The Bronco clipped the bumper of a parked car before sliding into a left turn onto 7th Street.
Wilson said that’s where his officer stopped giving chase, out of fear of hitting someone on the narrow roadway.
“He was going west on 7th and began accelerating wildly,” Wilson said of the Bronco driver. “At this point we don’t know if he was trying to pass slower cars or what.”
The driver’s next turn was a doozy. He veered left behind the Garfield County Jail, bouncing and speeding until he crashed the Bronco into a Ford Explorer. A Glenwood Springs police detective was waiting in the Explorer, directly behind the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office.
“He went up on the sidewalk and took out a light pole,” Wilson said.
By this time the suspect was doing about 55 mph, Wilson estimated.
“Then he smacked broadside into the side of a detective vehicle,” Wilson said of the detective’s Ford Explorer. “He hit the side of the car hard enough that he threw it into the air.”
The Bronco then came to an abrupt halt when it crashed into a guard post for a fire hydrant.
The detective hopped out of his Explorer and nabbed the driver before he could flee.
Wilson was part of the swarm of law enforcement officers who descended on what wound up to be a 14-year-old Basalt High School student in a stolen SUV who was already on probation for an unknown past transgression. Authorities did not release the boy’s name.
Someone had just reported that the Bronco was stolen from the Basalt park and ride located at the Highway 82 and Basalt Avenue intersection. The theft had not even been entered in the crime computer when the chase started in Glenwood Springs.
Wilson said some tourists from Los Angeles told him later they saw much of the tumult from their perch on the Grand Avenue Pedestrian Bridge.
Wilson joked, “Where they’re from, police chases after slow white Broncos are not uncommon, but this was a fast white Bronco.”
“It was a heck of an end to a Monday,” Wilson said. “We recovered a stolen vehicle, but it was in way, way worse shape than when he got it. It was a miracle nobody was hurt. I’m so incredibly proud of my officer for backing off.”
Actually, the detective – who Wilson declined to identify – suffered a bruised leg and the young suspect suffered minor injuries. Both were transported to Valley View Hospital. The suspect was later placed in a youth detention center.
Troopers from the Colorado State Patrol officially arrested the youth. CSP Corporal Scott Gardner said his office is investigating charges of auto theft, reckless driving, eluding police and driving without a license, but as of Tuesday no charges had yet been formally filed in 9th District Court.
Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511
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