Chris Tomlinson © GJSentinel.com
A Ranger checks on a van Thursday that hangs with its rear wheels over the brink of a 180-foot precipice above Red Canyon in the Colorado National Monument.
Photo by Chris Tomlinson © GJSentinel.com
A van teeters on a cliff side in Red Canyon in the Colorado National Monument Thursday afternoon.
GRAND JUNCTION — An outcropping of rock in the Colorado National Monument may have helped save the life of a man whose van came within a few feet of plunging into a canyon.
Authorities say the 34-year-old man drove some 120 feet off Rim Rock Drive in an apparent suicide attempt at about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, but he called 911 after the van became stuck on the rock overhang.
His van careened into Red Canyon onto a rock overhang about six miles from the east entrance. Officials at the scene said if the van had missed the overhang by 10 feet, it would have plummeted the entire 300 feet to the bottom of the canyon.
“This was definitely not an accident,” Park superintendent Joan Anzelmo said. “We feel strongly that he intentionally drove himself off Rimrock Drive.”
More than two dozen members of the Grand Junction Fire Department and Mesa County Search and Rescue secured the teetering van, then lifted the man to safety. He was trapped for about two hours before being airlifted to St. Mary's Hospital at about 6:30 p.m.
Anzelmo said "it is but for the grace of God or a higher power" that the man survived.
His name was not released.
The Daily Sentinel contributed to this report
GRAND JUNCTION — A Clifton man who drove his van off a cliff in Colorado National Monument in an apparent suicide attempt is wanted by authorities in the sexual assault of a 4-year-old girl.
A judge Thursday signed a $60,000 warrant accusing Daniel John Lyons, 34, 477 32 1/8 Road, No. 4, of sexual assault on a child, sexual assault on a child in a pattern of abuse and other felony counts.
Mesa County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Heather Benjamin said Friday that Lyons will be arrested upon his release from St. Mary’s Hospital.
Lyons’ condition wasn’t available for release to the media Friday. Hospital spokeswoman Samantha Moe said Lyons isn’t listed in the hospital directory. Lyons declined to comment when reached by phone in his room Thursday.
Lyons’ van dropped off Rim Rock Drive on Wednesday and tumbled about 120 feet into Red Canyon, where it snagged on a rock ledge about 170 feet above the canyon floor. Mesa County Search and Rescue crews rappelled into the canyon and rescued Lyons. Monument Superintendent Joan Anzelmo said officials believe Lyons was trying to kill himself.
The incident happened less than four hours after investigators questioned him in connection with a series of sex assaults reported earlier this week.
The victim’s mother contacted the Sheriff’s Department on Monday. She told investigators that her daughter told her a few nights earlier that Lyons had molested her, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
The 4-year-old told investigators Lyons assaulted her five times. She said Lyons told her not to tell anyone because he would go to jail, the affidavit said.
A second young girl reported that Lyons had tried to assault her but that she didn’t let him, the affidavit said.
Lyons went to the Sheriff’s Department for an interview at 1 p.m. Wednesday, and investigators said he admitted to sexually assaulting the 4-year-old twice. An investigator wrote in the affidavit that he told Lyons he would be seeking a warrant for Lyons’ arrest.
Lyons left the Sheriff’s Department after the interview. He dialed 911 on his cell phone at 4:30 p.m. to report he had driven off the monument but survived.
Lyons has been arrested at least four times on the Western Slope since 1996 on charges including burglary, assault, harassment, trespassing, criminal mischief and driving while ability impaired, according to Colorado Bureau of Investigation records.
The records show he pleaded guilty in 2004 to harassment and was sentenced to a year on probation. The disposition of the other cases was not immediately known.
March 2014 February 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 October 2013 September 2013 August 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 April 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 November 2012 October 2012 September 2012 August 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 November 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 July 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 October 2010 September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 June 2010 May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009 November 2009 October 2009 September 2009 August 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 February 2009 January 2009 December 2008