Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Steamboat Springs A man who led the Colorado State Patrol on a high-speed chase across Routt County last month is still at large after giving local law enforcement a false identity and fleeing the hospital where he was receiving medical treatment for minor injuries received after crashing the stolen vehicle.
The suspect has been identified as James Nicholson, 38. Nicholson gave state troopers his brother's identity at the time of the Nov. 2 incident. His last known address is in Greeley, but law enforcement authorities have been unable to locate him since a statewide alert was put out for his arrest last month.
Nicholson faces three felony and four misdemeanor charges in connection with the incident, State Patrol Sgt. Scott Elliott said.
Nicholson led former state Trooper Rick Kaspar on a high-speed chase after Kaspar attempted to pull him over while ascending Rabbit Ears Pass on U.S. Highway 40. Nicholson made a U-turn in the stolen Lincoln sedan, sped west down the pass and reached speeds of up to 120 mph on Colorado Highway 131 and Routt County Road 14, according to the State Patrol.
Nicholson eventually lost control of the vehicle while attempting a sharp turn from C.R. 14 onto C.R. 14C, with the car coming to a rest upside-down in a field adjacent to the road.
Nicholson sustained minor injuries and was transported via ambulance to Yampa Valley Medical Center, where he eluded arrest by walking out of the hospital in his nightgown at 3 a.m. the next day.
It is common practice for injured suspects to be taken into custody only when they are released from the hospital, since the Routt County Jail has no medical ward, and State Patrol lacks the personnel necessary to guard hospitalized suspects, Elliott said.
Nicholson has been charged with felony charges of vehicular eluding, criminal impersonation, and second-degree aggravated motor vehicle theft, as well as misdemeanor charges of driving under the influence, reckless driving, operating an uninsured motor vehicle and possession of drug paraphernalia.