A Colorado State Patrol trooper approaches the vehicle that crashed off Routt County Road 14 after a high-speed chase Friday. The driver of the vehicle walked out of the hospital Saturday morning, and troopers aren't sure of his real identity.

Courtsey photo

A Colorado State Patrol trooper approaches the vehicle that crashed off Routt County Road 14 after a high-speed chase Friday. The driver of the vehicle walked out of the hospital Saturday morning, and troopers aren't sure of his real identity.

Suspect in high-speed chase flees hospital


— The Colorado State Patrol is looking for a man who walked out of Yampa Valley Medical Center early Saturday morning while recovering from minor injuries suffered Friday during a high-speed car chase and subsequent crash.

Authorities thought the suspect was 45-year-old Mark Nicholson. But it wasn't until after the man left the hospital in his nightgown at about 3 a.m. Saturday that troopers realized he had given them a false identity and that the car he crashed was stolen.

Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Scott Elliott said the driver was injured when the Lincoln sedan he was driving flipped over at the intersection of Routt County roads 14 and 14C. The crash ended a high-speed chase that began when troopers tried to pull him over Friday afternoon while heading east on U.S. Highway 40 over Rabbit Ears Pass. The driver flipped a U-turn and sped back down the pass and made a left turn onto Colorado Highway 131.

Trooper Rick Kaspar pursued the vehicle but couldn't keep up with it. Kaspar estimated the driver's speed at 120 mph during parts of the chase.

The suspect turned left onto C.R. 14 but lost control at the sharp turn at 14 and 14C. The car landed upside down in a field. Kaspar said the suspect kicked out the rear passenger window and exited the vehicle. He was arrested on scene.

Elliott said it is common practice to take suspects to the hospital for treatment and take them back into custody once they are released.

"When we transport someone to the hospital, we typically issue a warrant for their arrest for when they are discharged," said Elliott, who noted that Routt County Jail doesn't have the medical facilities to care for injured suspects and inmates. Elliott also said the State Patrol doesn't have the personnel to guard hospitalized suspects.

"When somebody is injured like this, we take them to the hospital to get treated," he said. "We know where they are, who they are and how to find them."

"We didn't have a hold on him there, and he was free to go at any point. He was under (medical) care of hospital."

Elliott stressed that it was not the responsibility of the hospital to guard the suspect.

Christine McKelvie, the hospital's spokeswoman, said the man was admitted in good condition and was kept overnight for observation. It is believed he walked out of the hospital before sunrise Saturday.

And with the suspect now gone, Elliott said investigators are unsure of his real identity, though they are pursuing several leads.

"We are not prepared to say it yet, but we have a pretty good idea on who he is. There are some things we are still following up on," Elliott said.

The man is facing charges of felony eluding and reckless driving in addition to possible charges of driving under the influence of alcohol, theft and providing a false identity.

"He has just vanished," Elliott said. Investigators do not know whether someone picked up the man from the hospital or how he fled the premises.

"He got up, left his clothes and walked out and left," he said. "But we are in contact with several people and may have learned who he is."


bluntman 9 years, 5 months ago

attention citizens: be on the lookout for a hitchhiker wearing only a hospital gown.


steamboatsconscience 9 years, 5 months ago

this happened on Sat. morning and we only find out on Tues???????????????????? We knew about Wall 15 minutes before he was pulled over. Journalism at its finest Police protection at its finest.


id04sp 9 years, 5 months ago

Hey, wouldn't it be a hoot if this escapee had been picked up by the suspect in the vehicluar homicide case (violating his bond conditions), and they're both trapped in a vehicle down a ravine somewhere?

Now that would be priceless . . .


Ms_E_Bronte 9 years, 5 months ago

Well, look how long it took us taxpayers to find out about Wall's new SO policies and Bustos' accident!

And, maybe Wall helped spirit this guy out of the hospital! Birds of a feather ... this guy was only exercising his Constitutional rights ... after all, he wasn't under arrest yet. If they ever catch him, will the hospital charge him for the gown ... and we, the taxpayers, pay for it? (Wonder what color it was)


madmax 9 years, 5 months ago

Unbelievable! They just left this guy unguarded at the hospital? The mounties said they dont have the man power to guard hospitalized suspects, couldn't they have asked Gary Wallbanger for a deputy or 2. Of course Wallbanger probably wasn't taking calls from the guys who tried to bang him up for DUI. Incompitance at its finest.


wzstfu 9 years, 5 months ago

How about cuffing the dude to his hospital bed? And are we really to believe that the State Patrol can't make a call to the Sheriff's office or the police department to get an officer to stand guard?

This seems like one huge bungled mess if you ask me.


kusellout 9 years, 5 months ago

Let me get this straight:the guy was deemed dangerous enough to pursue at high speeds, endangering the lives of innocent bystanders, yet not dangerous enough to keep under monitor or handcuffs at the hospital? The CSP sure is impressive these days:maybe Sheriff Wall should have used a fake identity since the CSP obviously isn't validating much.


SangriaMama 9 years, 5 months ago

I don't know what this town is coming to.....one day we are told you can no longer leave your car unlocked - someone may steal your laptop or IPOD. Now we cannot leave a suspected felon unrestrained at a hospital facility for fear that he might just go home. Gosh darn it! AND...he lied about his identity...what a sneaky suspect......those poor policemen!! It is just not fair!!

I think if this does not make it to the next version of cabaret this community has a lot to answer for...


Paul Timmons 9 years, 5 months ago

There are issues of tax payers paying for medical costs with people who are in custody and recieving medical treatment, so CSP may have had your tax dollars in their best interest,

Just a thought....

I would suggest that fingerprints be taken from people whom are left unattended at the hospital. if that is not already being done. Then positive identification is not a question and warrants can be sought ..


Scott Wedel 9 years, 5 months ago

Pretty bad. He is in the hospital merely for observation and he would have been arrested and in jail if not at the hospital. And while it might not make sense to have an officer guard someone in th hospital (concerns of suspect overpowering one officer probably means it takes two officers to guard a suspect) , but surely they can put on an ankle monitor to detect if he leaves his hospital room and also have hospital staff call the police if they see him leave the hospital.

And it is rather scary to think that the hospital security is so minimal that someone like that is not being watched at all. If he could so easily walk out without anyone knowing exactly when he left then presumably he could have just as easily assaulted another patient.


id04sp 9 years, 5 months ago

What are you all so outraged about? If this guy had stayed around to go to court for his indictment, Judge Garrecht would have let him out on next-to-no bail anyway. We've already got vehiclular homicide suspects walking away on a $5,000 bond, so what do you think the Judge would do to somebody who only injured himself?

You've got to wonder if anybody in the LE community thought of taking this guy's prints and running them for other warrants, etc.

I'd suggest calling in a psychic, but somebody would probably call a physicist instead . . .


trollunderthebridge 9 years, 5 months ago

I did not see a call to the Police in the "police blotter" of

"Man seen wandering around Central Park Plaza in hospital gown".

Now how can that go unnoticed and not the bike abandoned on the Core Trail?

Is that more normal attire for Steamboat than I think?


dundalk 9 years, 5 months ago

Simply put, this article is not completely accurate and hence some of these comments, while understandable, are not keen to the real details.


madmax 9 years, 5 months ago

The guy commited a fairly major crime for these parts. We couldn't even keep an eye on him? LE my arse.


Wayne Eller 9 years, 5 months ago

Steamboat is "physical fitness "oriented. Obviously the C S P is also. Just look at the record. They are encouraging people to WALK. They let an intoxicated SHERIFF walk and now they are letting a felon walk. Oh well, so much for physical fitness.


Ms_E_Bronte 9 years, 5 months ago

Okay, dundalk, care to share some of the story of what really happened? You do, however, have to admit that some of these posts are the best we've ever read!!!

id04sp -- awesome!!!


dundalk 9 years, 5 months ago


Fashion for the night out...A stunning cotton blended, optional open to the back or front gown with a paisely starred pattern of crisp linen blue and white with blue bird speckles. Shoulder snaps make this outfit perfect the cheap date or easy access option after a night at the bar or high speed chase. Faded blue ties make the neckline swoop and also allow for the model to cinch at the waist, for the carefree, apres ski look. This outfit was enhanced by beautiful french (probably made in China though) booties, complete with rubber speckled tread on the balls and heel. The booties come in a well matched color of grey, with an almost frazzled fleece appearance.

Hospital Gown: $50.00 Matching Booties: $25.00 Crazy loon with bare moon: Priceless


stompk 9 years, 5 months ago

Hi Doc,

We're going to drop this guy off that we just propelled our 2000 lb cruisers to speeds in excess of 100 mph to catch, endangering everyone on the road. He was so dangerous, we had weapons drawn, as we approached the vehicle he wasn't in.

We now deputize you, Deputy Doc.

Thanks Doc, Good luck.

Bye Bye.


justathought 9 years, 5 months ago

It was believed he walked out before sunrise, I wonder what the temperature was. Dressed as dundalk so aptly describes he wasn't noticed leaving the hospital or roaming the streets, makes one think he had an accomplice or ["He has just vanished," Elliott said.] Steamboat has just entered the twilight zone.


jaunty 9 years, 5 months ago

The hospital won't be charging the taxpayers for anything, as Yampa Valley Medical Center is not tax-supported.

Hospital security stays busy almost every night in the ER, protecting staff from the intoxicated patients who turn violent and assisting in keeping these patients from harming themselves.

Read The Record in the Today and see how many substance users end up in the ER during the wee hours.


id04sp 9 years, 5 months ago

Hey, jaunty,

Just so you know -- when LE takes a person in custody to a place to receive medical treatment, the agency pays.

Why do you think Don Nord was not arrested for trafficking in marijuana a couple of years ago -- the guy was SICK, and taking him into custody would make the sheriff's office responsible for his treatment. That's why his citation was "lost." (Nord was not charged for possessing the amount of pot he was allowed to have under his Colorado medical marijuana permit. He was charged with possessing MORE than his Colorado permit allowed.)

Could it be that this suspect was not actually arrested and was not "in custody" because the CSP didn't want to pay for his treatment?

Was the CSP waiting for the guy to be released from the hospital, with the intention of arresting him as soon as he was discharged? That would explain a lot, huh?


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