Bomb threat against health club deemed hoax
February 3, 2010
Someone phoned in a bomb threat to Silver Mountain Sports Club midday Monday, triggering a major law enforcement action and causing a commotion in Prospector the day after the hubbub of the Sundance Film Festival ended.
Bomb-sniffing dogs searched Silver Mountain, but they did not turn up evidence there was a bomb. The dogs also did not find evidence of a bomb at the nearby Prospector Square Lodge and Conference Center. Police Chief Wade Carpenter said Silver Mountain, the Lodge and Conference Center and Grub Steak Restaurant were temporarily evacuated.
"It’s a sports club. That’s what doesn’t make sense," Chris Kehr, the operations manager at Silver Mountain, said as he waited outside during the search of the building.
Silver Mountain received the threat at approximately noon. The authorities cleared the scene at just before 4 p.m. Over the just less than four hours the police and other agencies were at the site, traffic on sections of Sidewinder Drive and Prospector Drive outside Silver Mountain was rerouted.
The authorities said the person making the bomb threat gave Silver Mountain a two-hour window, lasting from noon until 2 p.m., when there could be an explosion.
Officers from Utah County, the Utah Highway Patrol and the Salt Lake City International Airport assisted the local authorities. Four bomb-sniffing dogs were brought to the scene. Carpenter said the search of the Lodge and Conference Center was complicated by numerous boxes that were in the building as Sundance organizers prepared to move out after setting up a screening room there during the festival.
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Stanton Jones, who owns Silver Mountain, said the health club received what he describes as a strange call, with the threat being made at the end of the conversation. A front-desk clerk told Jones a woman with a British accent and a man with an accent that could have been Middle Eastern were on the line.
According to Jones, the people said they were in Park City for Sundance. The woman asked the man at the front desk who picked up the call a series of personal questions, with Jones saying she made "inappropriate advances" during the conversation.
The woman then asked the front desk to transfer her to the spa, but the line was busy and the call was returned to the front desk, Jones said. The man took the phone from the woman and told the Silver Mountain staffer the sports club was under surveillance and then made the bomb threat, Jones said.
Jones does not expect that the callers were Silver Mountain customers. He said, though, perhaps the people could be disgruntled visitors whose vehicle was towed during Sundance.
"Who knows? It could have been anything," Jones said, adding that the callers were described to him as being "really strange, strange people."
Approximately 60 customers and another 15 Silver Mountain staffers were ordered out of the building. The health club reopened at 5 p.m. on Monday.
Park City Police Department investigators are seeking a search warrant in an attempt to trace whether the call was made on a cell phone and where the call was made from. Jones said Silver Mountain, meanwhile, hoped to obtain phone records from the call as early as late Tuesday morning.
The police said the people who made the call could face charges of making a terroristic threat. The charge could be as serious as a second-degree felony, punishable by between 1 and 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine upon conviction. The police chief said the authorities would also seek reimbursement for the response if someone is convicted. He said the response cost at least $5,000.