Bill Pass: Steamboat sets example

The following is a description of a situation we encountered Thursday night at the Steamboat Springs Transit Center. In light of highly publicized stories of ineffective government (both nationally and in our own City Council) and disrespectful/combative police confrontations nationwide, this exemplifies how citizens, government and police should act on a daily basis.

I witnessed many acts of compassion, dedication and commitment to service at the Steamboat Gondola Transit Center. My wife and I had gone into town utilizing the SST for an early dinner. While returning to the mountain where we call home, we heard several radio messages on the SST regarding a person experiencing some distress. At the time we were unaware of the location of this situation.

Upon arriving at the Gondola Transit Center, we heard and saw the person described on the radio messages in the enclosed waiting area. As we approached the enclosed waiting area, we encountered a concerned citizen who at first we thought was accompanying the individual described on the radio messages. Later, we learned this was the first of many people that stepped up to help a person in obvious distress.

We never learned his name, but he did tell us that he was a ski instructor who had ushered this distressed individual away from children and others that may have been disturbed by his abusive language. This was the first of many individuals we encountered that night that demonstrated a spirit of compassion and dedication that exemplifies why Steamboat Springs is such a special place to live and visit.

We immediately recognized that this person was experiencing some emotional and mental distress and was also in precarious physical health jeopardy due to sub-freezing conditions that were expected to drop below zero during the night. While my wife comforted and calmed this man, I contacted the SST bus communication center. The SST communications representative said he was aware and understood the situation and would contact someone to help.

Within 20 minutes, a sergeant with the Steamboat Springs Police arrived on the scene. I approached the sergeant to make him aware of the situation and to express my concern. Based on my brief encounter with the individual in distress, I was concerned that he might not react well to a police presence. However, given the situation there did not appear to be any alternative.

When the sergeant approached the individual, the officer was respectful and courteous and to our surprise the distressed person reacted well to the sergeant’s appearance and questioning. He determined that the individual was on the way to Denver from Craig and had gotten stuck in Steamboat Springs. He indicated he would see what he could do to get him to Denver. He then returned to his car to see what he could do while my wife continued to comfort the individual.

A while later, another Steamboat Springs police officer arrived on the scene to assist. Also, the Steamboat Springs transportation director arrived on scene. The officer and sergeant approached to discuss alternatives with the distressed individual. The alternative selected by the individual was a night stay at a local motel and bus transport the following day to Denver where he indicated there was someone who could help him.

We departed that night with the police providing him transport to the local motel.

I would like to thank all of the individuals in the preceding narrative for their professionalism and dedication to service. 

Bill Pass

Steamboat Springs

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