Texans try to get stuck trucks off mountain
SILVERTON It may be the highest-ever case of illegal parking.
With lightning rattling the steep mountainside, two Texans tried for a fifth day Friday to
dislodge their vehicles from a 12,000-foot perch on Houghton Mountain, about 200 miles
southwest of Denver.
Alan Hatcher of Dallas, his 13-year-old daughter, Kyle, and his brother, Gary, of Bryan
drove the Dodge Ram and the Jeep Wrangler up the mountain into steep country containing a
fragile ecosystem, where they couldn�t turn back.
They abandoned the vehicles, hiked to a nearby ghost town and eventually hitched a ride to
Since then, their main task has been rescuing the two vehicles, about 500 feet above the
road on a 70 percent grade.
They have tried a tow truck and even considered a helicopter, but officials with New Air
Helicopters say the vehicles weigh too much to be removed by air.
�We�re not really stupid people. It was a momentary lapse of judgment that got us to where
we�re at,� said Alan Hatcher, a math teacher. Gary Hatcher added, �This was really
With Bureau of Land Management officials pressuring them to remove the vehicles from the
fragile habitat, the Hatchers on Friday headed back up the mountain with a winch and some
posts to secure it into the mountainside, hoping to pull the vehicles free, said Melody
Skinner, a San Juan County sheriff�s dispatcher.
�They�ll be lucky if they get one out today,� Skinner said.
�If you live around here you know that sometimes it�s best just to get out and walk.�
The Hatchers� plight has provided entertainment for this former mining town, whose
residents have been driving up the mountain within viewing distance of the spectacle.
The temptation to make fun of the Texans is tempered by the fact that Silverton residents
know what it is like to be stuck. During the winter they can spend weeks at a time with no
way out of town if U.S. 550 is closed by avalanches.
�We�ve had nothing but good luck, help and kindness since we hiked off that mountain,�
said Alan Hatcher.
BLM law enforcement officer Lanny Wanger has ticketed the men for driving vehicles off the
road and damaging the tundra. He said BLM crews will remove the vehicles and bill the two
men if their efforts are unsuccessful.
�Whatever they do, it�s going to cost them at least $1,000,�
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