By Keith Coffman
DENVER (Reuters) – A Colorado man who wrecked his car, fled from police and climbed a tree atop a mountain cliff has been arrested after negotiators spent three hours talking him down from his precarious perch, authorities said on Wednesday.
Richard Poula Jr., 32, ultimately surrendered and was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs and a host of other charges related to the incident, Boulder County Sheriff’s Office Commander Heidi Prentup said.
According to Prentup, police outside the city of Longmont took a call on Tuesday from a person who reported that a motorist was stopped in the middle of a road and was beating on a car with a pipe wrench, breaking out the windows.
“The person reporting this strange behavior decided to follow the vehicle until deputies were able to catch up,” Prentup said, adding that officers followed as Poula entered a canyon about four miles from where he was first seen smashing his car.
When he reached a parking lot at a canyon trailhead, Poula crashed into a large rock and his car went airborne, coming to rest in a field, police said.
He then fled on foot, wading across a creek and scrambling up a steep cliff where he perched himself in a tree about 30 feet above the canyon floor, Prentup said.
After three hours, negotiators with the Boulder County SWAT team persuaded Poula, who was not armed, to come down from the cliff and give himself up, she said.
Poula was transported to the Boulder County jail where in addition to driving under the influence, he was being held for investigation of failure to report an accident, leaving the scene of an accident, eluding and obstructing police, reckless endangerment and a parole violation, jail records showed.
(Reporting by Keith Coffman; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Beech)