Fentanyl, ketamine among ski patrol drugs stolen from Buttermilk
The Aspen Times
High-powered narcotics, including ketamine and fentanyl, were among the drugs stolen earlier this month from a safe inside the ski patrol shack at the top of Buttermilk ski mountain, according to a police report.
The drugs were included in three kits carried by ski patrollers to treat injuries on the mountain, which were all stolen from inside a safe that was forced open March 10 or 11, the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office report states.
A resupply box containing more narcotics — including a drug called hydromorphone that the Drug Enforcement Administration says can be used as a heroin substitute — also was taken, according to the report.
After an investigation that included trying to identify bootprints found under two of the shack’s windows, the Sheriff’s Office has no suspects in the case, said Brad Gibson, an investigator.
The drugs were stolen either the night of March 10 or early March 11. A ski patrol paramedic who reported to the Buttermilk ski patrol shack on the morning of March 11 told a sheriff’s deputy he noticed the theft when he went to open the safe where the drugs were kept, the report states.
“[The ski patroller] stated he punched the safe code into the keypad to get a drug kit for the day,” according to the report. “ [The ski patroller] stated he turned the knob on the safe as usual. [He said] the knob just came off.”
Gibson said Friday that scratches on the safe indicated the thief initially may have tried to pry the door open from the bottom left side. That did not work, so the person pried off the dial, exposing a metal plate underneath, which was dislodged, causing the door pins to pop out and open the safe door, he said.
Each kit contained one vial of epinephrine, one vial of hydromorphone, one vial of ketamine, one vial of midazolam, one vial of ondansetron, one vial of naloxone and two vials of fentanyl, the report states.
The restock box contained 39 vials or 100 micrograms of fentanyl, 10 vials or 500 milligrams of ketamine, five vials or two miligrams of hydromorphone and five vials or five milligrams of midazolam, the report states.
Ondansetron is an anti-nausea drug, while midazolam is a sedative and naloxone is a drug to counter overdoses, according to online drug sources. The stolen items also included epinephrine to counter allergic reactions and a bottle of nitroglycerin to deal with heart issues, according to the report and drug sources.
Ketamine is an anesthetic and pain reliver — also known as “Special K” — that gained popularity as a rave and dance club drug, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s website. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin used as an anesthetic, according to the DEA.
Fentanyl, a Schedule II narcotic, has gained notoriety in recent years because it is sometimes mixed with other drugs like cocaine and heroin to enhance the effect, at times causing fatal overdoses.
The ski patrol shack didn’t show any signs of forced entry, according to the Sheriff’s Office report. Gibson reported finding bootprints in the snow leading up to two windows in the shack. He also said he found another window in the shack that was unlocked, though no prints were found beneath it because the surface below them was metal, the report states.
Gibson checked for fingerprints on the ledge of the open window but found none, according to the report.
He checked the bootprints against all the boots worn by snowcat operators who groomed the mountain that night and found no matches, the report states. In addition, each snowcat is tracked by GPS, which showed no unusual activity that night.
One groomer reported seeing between 20 and 25 uphillers that night, as well, the report states.
Gibson also checked the criminal records of each person he interviewed and found nothing suspicious, according to his report.
Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo said Aspen Skiing Co. has beefed up security measures at the Buttermilk ski patrol shack so that if anyone tries to get in again, someone is notified.
He said he didn’t know if similar actions had been taken at the other three ski mountains in the area — Snowmass, Aspen Mountain and Aspen Highlands. DiSalvo also said he didn’t know if similar drugs were kept at ski patrol shacks located at each of those mountains, as well.
Jeff Hanle, Skico spokesman, did not return a message Friday seeking that information.