A High Speed Chase and Burn Ban
Sheriff Involved in High-Speed Chase
If you were in Leadville on September 26, you likely heard all of the sirens around town as emergency responders were put on high alert during a high-speed chase through Leadville that ended in a crash down south in Chaffee County.
Since the incident crossed county lines, and occurred on state highways the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) would have been apprised if not directly involved with the situation, so Leadville Today (LT) reached out to CSP Public Information Officer Trooper Gary Cutler for the initial intel on Friday, Sept 27 at 1:15 p.m. Here is his report based on scanner communication.
“It looks like Lake County Sheriff’s Office started the pursuit. We had reports of speeds between 90 – 100 mph. None of our guys were in position to be able to assist with that. Lake County covered the crash and the only assist that they received from CSP was with the accident diagram. The driver’s license was suspended. Chaffee County ended up with the vehicle but they were not part of the pursuit.” Trooper Cutler reported that one male and one female were in the vehicle. He also explained that the protocol in these situations is that neighboring counties are alerted if the situation is headed their way to see if they can assist or perhaps use some other methods of slowing the eluding vehicle down.
Leadville Today then contacted Lake County Sheriff Reyes at 1:25 p.m. on Friday to see if her office would be issuing a media advisory or statement regarding the incident.
“Yes I’ll be putting out a statement Betty Benson is working on it now,” she responded minutes later, referring to the Lake County Public Information Officer.
So while that piece of the report would be forthcoming, LT then called the Chaffee County Sheriff Office since the incident ended in their jurisdiction. Sheriff John Spezze immediately returned the call and succinctly reported the following on Friday, Sept 27 at 1:40 p.m. in a phone interview with Leadville Today: “We weren’t involved in the chase. We didn’t stop the vehicle, the vehicle went off the road. It was off the road by the time we got there. We were not involved in the chase whatsoever. We were driving down the highway and found the wreck.” Sheriff Spezze was able to confirm that the crash happened at the intersection of CO 301 and Highway 285, which would conflict with the Lake County report that would be distributed on Sunday evening.
According to a press release distributed Sunday, Sept. 29 at 5:30 p.m. by Lake County Public Information Officer (PIO) Betty Benson:
“On Sept. 26 the Lake County Sheriff engaged in pursuit of a green Subaru that was driving recklessly and exceeding the speed limit. This chase started near Saturdays, continued into Leadville, and then south towards Chaffee County. The Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office was notified of this pursuit and were able to assist as Sheriff Reyes ended pursuit as they entered Chaffee County. Sheriff Reyes was asked to come to Hwy 24 & MM 124 as the vehicle wrecked there. An ambulance was called for the driver due to concerns for her health. She was taken to the hospital in Salida. After being released from the hospital, the driver, identified as Bathsheba Westman was arrested. She was advised on Friday, Sept. 30 and released on a $4,000 bond for Vehicular Eluding. The vehicle was impounded by the Lake County Sheriff.”
Lake County: Stage 2 Burn Ban
On Thursday, Oct. 3, Lake County Sheriff Amy Reyes issued a STAGE 2 FIRE BAN for Lake County. The burn restrictions pertain to ALL PUBLIC AND PRIVATE PROPERTY until further notice:
What are STAGE 2 Fire Restrictions? STAGE 2 Fire Restrictions help land management agencies reduce fire risk and prevent wildfires during periods of high to extreme fire danger.
- Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire 36 CFR 261.52(a). This includes charcoal grills and barbecues, coal and wood-burning stoves and sheepherder’s stoves and includes use in developed camping and picnic grounds. EXCEPT: Devices using pressurized liquid or gas (stoves, grills or lanterns) that include shut-off valves are permitted when used in an area at least three feet or more from flammable material such as grasses or pine needles.
- Smoking. 36 CFR 261.52(c) EXCEPT: Within enclosed vehicle, trailer or building.
- Welding or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame. 36 CFR 261.52(i).
- Operating or using any internal combustion engine (e.g. chainsaw, generator, ATV) without a spark arresting device properly installed, maintained and in effective working order meeting either: (a) Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Standard 5100-1a; or (b) Appropriate Society of automotive Engineers (SAE) recommended practice J335(b) and J350(a). 36 CFR 261.52(j)
- Operating a chainsaw without an approved spark arresting device as described in Prohibition #4, a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher (8 oz. capacity by weight or larger and kept with the operator) and a round point shovel with an overall length of at least 35 inches readily available for use. 36 CFR 261.52(h).
- Using an explosive. 36 CFR 261.52(b). This includes but is not limited to fuses or blasting caps, fireworks, rockets, exploding targets, and tracers or incendiary. must be in the physical possession of the person or persons undertaking the exempted activities.
- Any federal, state or local officer, or member of an organized rescue or fire fighting force in the performance of an official duty is exempt from Prohibitions #1, #3, #4 and #5.
- Possessing or using a motor vehicle off established roads, motorized trails or established parking areas, except when parking in an area devoid or vegetation within 10 feet of the vehicle. 36 CFR 261.52.
- Persons with a valid Forest Service permit or contract specifically authorizing the otherwise prohibited act or omission may be eligible for an exemption from Prohibitions #1, #3, #4, #5, #6 and #7. Any exemption must be applied for in writing, include an appropriate mitigation plan and must be authorized in writing by the appropriate Forest Service official. The authorization must be in the physical possession of the person or persons undertaking the exempted activities.
- Any Federal, State or local officer or member of an organized rescue or firefighting force in the performance of an official duty is exempt from Prohibitions #1, #3, #5, #6 and #7.
- Residents, owners or lessees within the restricted area are exempt from #1, provided such fires are within a permanent dwelling and there is a spark arrestor in working order on the chimney.
Please contact Leadville Fire Department at 719-486-2990 or Non- Emergency number for Lake County Sheriff’s Office 719-486-1249 for further information.
UPDATE: Friday, Oct. 4 the San Isabel National Forest (Leadville, Salida, and San Carlos Ranger Districts) also instituted Stage 2 Fire Restrictions. All of the items outlined above apply, except no fires at all are allowed in the San Isabel National Forest.