Our Latest News

July 2014 report to the county commissioners


The sheriff and undersheriff

The sheriff and undersheriff participated in the Fourth of July parades in Buena Vista and Salida.


A two-car collision on Trout Creek Pass took the life of one driver and seriously injured the driver of the second car.  Deputies assisted CSP with the incident.  A very sincere appreciation goes to Buena Vista PD Sgt. Sam Livingston and Officer Glenn Zirkle, who were first on scene, handled the huge traffic problems, summoned Flight for Life, and cleared a landing zone on the highway.  Both remained until the state trooper completed his investigation.

Ten people were detained and cited early on a Saturday morning when sheriff’s deputies, assisted by Buena Vista police officers, broke up a drinking party at a private residence west of Buena Vista.  The two occupants of the residence, ages 23 and 25, who allegedly hosted the party and provided alcohol to the guests, were charged with providing alcohol to persons under the age of twenty-one.  Scores of young people, most of them under the age of 21, were present and being provided alcohol; many fled on the arrival of deputies.  Eight of them, ages 18 to 20 years, tested positive for alcohol use.  They were cited for underage drinking and released at the scene to responsible third parties.  The press release is on our website.

A group of hikers on the Colorado Trail near Angel of Shavano Campground reported that a very rude male confronted them on the trail and threatened to shoot them and their dog that had barked at him.  Tactical team members assisted patrol deputies who located the man, discovered no weapons, but arrested and charged him with menacing, a misdemeanor.  The man is a 59-year-old resident of Richfield Spring, NY and as of this writing remains in our jail under a $2500 bond.

Deputies assisted CDOT and CSP with closing Poncha Pass due to mud slides on July 15th.  The slides completely covered the pass and stranded several motorists who were caught between slides.

We’ve seen an increase in fraud (not frog) and identity theft calls this month.  The public is reminded not to conduct financial transactions via e-mail or phone with unknown sources.  

  River incidents

Two men died in separate kayaking incidents over the weekend of July 12-13. In the first, a 40-year-old male kayaker perished in the Pine Creek Rapid on the Arkansas River north of Buena Vista.  In the second, a man apparently fell out of his kayak near Fisherman’s Bridge and drowned.  Press releases are posted on our website.

A woman, age 57, visiting from Texas drowned when the commercial raft in which she was riding with six others overturned in Pine Creek rapid.  The others were able to swim to shore but the victim was swept downstream where she was pulled from the water by a safety kayaker who was accompanying the rafters.  The press release is posted on our website.

A Texas man, 54, died on the Arkansas River approximately seven miles north of Buena Vista.  The victim had been in an inflatable kayak when his boat high centered on a large rock in the Miracle Mile section of the river.  He stepped out of his kayak and was standing on the shoreline, according to witnesses who next saw the man floating downriver. He was pulled to shore approximately 200 yards downstream and emergency CPR was started immediately. Chaffee County EMS responded and continued CPR, however efforts to revive the victim were unsuccessful and the man was pronounced dead at the scene.  An autopsy the following day showed the man died as a result of drowning.  The press release is on our website.

All of these deaths were extensively investigated by our deputies, requiring dozens of formal interviews and reports.  Although they occurred within the boundaries of Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, where primary jurisdiction is with the state’s Parks and Wildlife Division, by mutual agreement with that agency ours conducts the investigations into deaths on the river.  The same holds true with deaths that occur within the national forest and on BLM lands.


Two separate sex assault (family relation) investigations were concluded with the arrests of both alleged offenders.

A burglary at Cottonwood Hot Springs netted the suspect an undisclosed sum of cash.  Video surveillance captured images of the suspect but she was unrecognizable because she was wearing a disguise. Through a tip, investigators developed her identity and the suspect, a Buena Vista resident, age 50, was arrested and charged with the crime.  The cash was not recovered.

A residential burglary on County Road 146 resulted in the loss of several dollars in coins and eight firearms.  Investigators developed a potential suspect who resided in the same general area and through further investigation identified a suspect.  A search warrant was executed at the 23-year-old male suspect’s home and all the firearms were recovered.  The man was jailed. 

  Training Issues

Deputy Jeff Stephens attended a one day Taser Instructor Recertification course in Montrose, Colorado.  

The patrol staff participated in training on the use of their new individual first aid kits (IFAKs) and also trained in active shooter response at Salida High School


  Complaints / commendations

 Victims Advocate

 Communications Center

Annette attended the South Central Region Communications Working Group meeting in Woodland Park.  There was a presentation on FirstNet, which will enhance the capabilities of emergency services to be able to use their mobile devices during an incident where commercial carriers may not have service.  This is in the planning stages but will be a huge asset once implemented.  The cost should be no more than what we are paying commercial carriers at this time.

Annette and Jason will begin migrating files from the old server to the new server, so that Sleuth can remotely install the Sleuth upgrade to workstations, in anticipation of the full upgrade in September.



  Training Attended

Search and Rescue

The Chaffee County Times published an extensive article on our search and rescue teams and they extraordinary work they do.  The piece, by reporter Maisie Ramsay, was titled “Real-life Heroes.”

A Plano, Texas man, 26, who became stranded on Mt. Princeton, had to be rescued from his perch on the face of a cliff during an operation that lasted into the dark hours.  He was finally reached by search and rescue volunteers shortly before 9pm.  He had suffered an injured ankle but was otherwise unhurt.  The man was assisted off the mountain by volunteers expert in technical climbing rescues, reaching the trailhead after midnight.  Several items of climbing equipment used by SAR climbing experts were left in place and will not be recovered due to the extremely dangerous terrain encountered during this extraordinary mission.  The press release is on our website.

A male hiker left the trail while descending Mt. Princeton and called for help when he could not regain the trail because of slippery terrain.  SAR-N responded and assisted him to safety.

A female hiker, 55, accompanied by two seventeen-year-old girls, visiting from Cedar Falls, Iowa, called for assistance from Mt. Princeton after the adult male in their party left them to take a different route.  The three women lost the trail and became stranded in a scree field.  SAR volunteers, in contact with the trio by cell phone and recognizing their position from a photo of the area sent by one of the women through her device, reached the women and escorted them back to the trail where they were met by other volunteers on ATVs.  The male hiker was located by other rescuers and accompanied to his car at the radio tower.  All were uninjured.

A Denver man, 18, hiking with two friends the same age on Mt. Columbia, split off from the others who reported him missing when he failed to meet up with them at the trailhead.  A search mission was launched late in the afternoon and continued until 3am.  It was resumed the next day until the man was finally located as he descended the trail, having spent a long, chilly, and uncomfortable night on the mountain.  He was unharmed by the experience.

One member of a nine-person film crew working on “The Prospectors” television show became separated from the group when the crew crossed Little Brown Creek.  SAR volunteers with OHVs and motorcycles responded.  The hiker was finally spotted by the undersheriff who had responded to assist.  The man was reunited with his colleagues unharmed.

A Texas woman called to report her husband and three others overdue from a hike on a mountain, the location of which she did not know.  A deputy found the group’s vehicle at a trailhead for Mt. Harvard and a mission was launched early the next day.  It included several volunteers with specialized equipment and a fixed wing aircraft owned by one of the team members.  DOC was contacted for assistance by their K-9 units.  The four hikers were discovered on the trail, safe, later that morning.

In addition to these missions, search and rescue volunteers assisted with the recovery of the bodies of the drowning victims reported in the Operations section of this report.

Records and Administration

Detention Facility

We have dealt with several inmates with mental health and suicidal issues that need to be closely monitored.  We were informed of an eight to twelve week wait for a competency evaluation from the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo, which means our holding cells are tied up with mental patients and the booking and release process is difficult at best.


Detentions Deputy Corey Orth will complete the POST Academy in early August and transfer to the patrol division.  Randy Carricato resigned his position with the Salida Police Department to fill the vacancy created by Deputy Orth’s transfer to patrol.  Deputy Carricato’s first day with us is August 18.

Due to the changes with our visitation program, we have moved the civilian fingerprinting day to Saturdays.  Times are 9:00 am to noon, 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm, and 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm.  We feel this will better serve the public.