Colo. sheriff fed up with people bypassing safety rules, putting themselves in dangerous situations

“Some people have it together and know what they’re doing, but some who venture up there are complete a— clowns,” San Miguel Sheriff officials said

By Brooke Baitinger
The Charlotte Observer

TELLURIDE, Colo. — A Colorado sheriff has a name for people who end up in dangerous situations because they skirted rules in place to keep them safe.

“Some people have it together and know what they’re doing, but some who venture up there are complete a— clowns,” San Miguel Sheriff officials said Aug. 14 on Twitter with a photo of a Toyota 4Runner that got stuck after the drivers drove up a closed mountain road.

Not only did officials say the drivers venture up Black Bear Pass while it was closed — they dug out deep snow to do so and then bragged about it on social media, saying the pass was “unofficially open,” according to the sheriff’s office.

“Officially, Black Bear Pass is closed,” officials said, adding that crews needed to work on the road to make it safe to drive through before it could open. The necessary work included “clearing rocks that can cause rockslides.”

Black Bear Pass is a dirt road that starts from the summit of Red Mountain Pass on U.S. Highway 550 — at about 11,018 feet of elevation — and goes to the town of Telluride.

Drivers and hikers are responsible for researching whether roads, trails and other areas are open before venturing into the backcountry, officials said.

“Black Bear Pass is dangerous, and you need experience and the right vehicle to navigate it safely,” officials said. “We may not be able to reach you if you have an emergency up there, so be prepared to abandon your vehicle, be stranded, or be seriously injured and inconvenienced.”

At least one driver appeared to be from out of town and possibly unfamiliar with navigating Colorado’s challenging backcountry. Photos showed one of the vehicles had Texas license plates.

“TX plates on a backcountry mountain pass,” someone said on Twitter. “The mountains are no joke and need to be respected,” they added.

Others agreed.

“It always astounds me people think they somehow know more about a place than the people who are literally on the ground every day,” someone commented.

©2023 The Charlotte Observer.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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