Denver man shoots self after crashing van into Green Mountain Reservoir
SUMMIT COUNTY – A Denver-area man reportedly shot himself to death early Tuesday afternoon after driving his employer’s van into the Green Mountain Reservoir. But the erratic moments before his death brought flak-jacketed and armed police from three agencies to the reservoir.
The man’s name has not been released, pending notification of next of kin.
The man’s employer called the Summit County Sheriff’s Office Tuesday morning, saying he was concerned about his employee, who had been missing for four days. The company van, reported stolen, was also missing. The man’s employer said “they thought he would come up to Heeney and commit suicide,” said sheriff’s Sgt. Joel Cochran.
About noon, a sheriff’s officer drove out to the Heeney area to look for the man and recognized the van as he drove by it on County Road 30. When the officer tried to stop the man to check on him, the man fled in the van, drove into the reservoir near McDonald Flats, and then apparently shot himself, sheriff’s officers said.
Initially, however, the officer didn’t know the man was dead.
“The van sat there, door closed, with no activity,” Cochran said.
The man’s flight and the officer’s suspicion that he was carrying a gun prompted the officer to call for back-up and then wait until he could ascertain the man was dead before approaching the vehicle. About a dozen members of three law enforcement agencies – Dillon and Kremmling police and the Summit County Sheriff’s Office – surrounded the van, many of them carrying guns and crouching on a cliff above the partially submerged vehicle.
The officers, said Sheriff Joe Morales, kept an eye on the sheriff’s officer as he walked up to the van, opened the door and threw tear gas inside it.
“We could see him in the front seat,” Morales said. “He did not move.”
Officers later went back to the van and removed a gun that was in the dead man’s lap.
Jane Reuter can be reached at 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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