Police release few details about Snowmass man’s death
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
The spot where George Aldrich’s body was discovered Monday afternoon is a peaceful place, with Maroon Creek rushing along in the background, a light layer of snow covering the nearby wetlands and sunlight peeking through the steel supports for the bridge 107 feet above.
Exactly how the Snowmass Village resident came to rest there remained a mystery Tuesday morning. Police held a press conference a few hundred yards away at the Aspen Golf Club parking lot but released little new information about the case. Police did not provide any details about the cause of death. An autopsy was scheduled to be performed Tuesday afternoon.
Assistant Aspen Police Chief Bill Linn said there is nothing to suggest Aldrich’s death was anything but an accident. However, the possibility of foul play was not ruled out. Police declined to speculate that Aldrich somehow fell off the Maroon Creek Bridge.
Aldrich, 28, had not been seen since the bitterly cold night of Nov. 27. He had been hanging out with friends at Eric’s Bar until around 10 p.m., when he decided to leave downtown Aspen and boarded a Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus at the Rubey Park station. A conversation Aldrich had with another passenger suggests he mistakenly got off at Truscott Place on Highway 82, just outside of town, well short of the Brush Creek intercept lot where he would have needed to transfer to another bus to Snowmass Village.
A native of Rhode Island, Aldrich had been living in the area since early November. He was working as a lift operator for Aspen Skiing Co. and had hoped to break into a marketing job.
At the news conference, Police Chief Richard Pryor confirmed that the body found at 2:30 p.m. Monday was that of George Aldrich. He said three off-duty members of Mountain Rescue Aspen discovered Aldrich in an area under the bridge that had been previously searched. Over the last two weeks, local authorities and community volunteers have conducted numerous searches from Aspen to Snowmass, as well as the Highway 82 corridor to Carbondale, ever since Aldrich was reported missing on Nov. 29 when he failed to show up for work.
To no avail, helicopters were used, as well as bloodhounds. Early last week, a bloodhound team with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office had tracked George’s scent to the Aspen Country Inn, where the trail stopped suddenly. Reporters at Tuesday’s news conference asked repeatedly how it was that searchers and search dogs were unable to find Aldrich during previous forays along the creek bed.
“The difficulty with a dog is you can’t tell when someone might have doubled back on their own tracks,” Linn said. He later added, “Dogs, like human beings, are imperfect, and we can’t say exactly why they didn’t catch the scent of him, but obviously they did not.”
Pryor pointed to the difficult and varied terrain of the Maroon Creek wetlands, with lots of rocks, bushes, shrubs and slight earthen depressions. Aldrich, who was wearing a camouflage jacket and jeans, was found in one of those depressions, Pryor said.
“He was most likely snow-covered for much of the last two weeks. His clothing also blends in closely with the scene,” said the police chief.
In fact, from a distance of only six feet from the body, it was difficult to see Aldrich, Pryor said.
“While the area was searched multiple times, we firmly believe that we did all we could under the circumstances, and we are very fortunate to have discovered him,” he said. “Hopefully in some way that will bring some kind of closure to [George Sr.] and his family over time.”
Neither Aldrich’s father, George Aldrich Sr., nor older brother Sean could be reached for comment Tuesday. They were said to have scheduled a flight back to Rhode Island early Monday. Police said in the wake of the new development, they expected some family members to return to Aspen late Tuesday.
Once the body was found, a crime scene was set up Tuesday afternoon and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation conducted a probe. They wrapped up their work at the scene around midnight Tuesday.
“I think all of us are fortunate to live in a small community like this,” Pryor added. “These things rarely happen. We live in a very safe place. It comes as a shock to all of us to have a young man who’s come here, looking for a good time, to enjoy himself skiing, to meet new friends, to work in the mountains, to have his life end like this is an absolute tragedy and I think everyone in the community feels that.”
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