Park City man confesses to keying cars at trailhead, Sheriff’s Office says (updated)
Sheriff’s Office says man was upset at mountain bikers on trails, could face charges
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect charges filed Wednesday by the Summit County Attorney’s Office.
A 61-year-old Park City man was charged with felony criminal mischief for allegedly keying vehicles at a popular trailhead over the weekend in what a Summit County Sheriff’s Office deputy said was “the most extreme” recent example of conflict between trail users.
The man was captured on surveillance video keying multiple vehicles at the East Canyon Creek trailhead near Jeremy Ranch Elementary School.
The Summit County Attorney’s Office filed the charges Wednesday in 3rd District Court.
Sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Wright said there was damage to at least four vehicles, with scratches on body panels on all sides of the cars. According to charging documents, the damage for three vehicles is estimated to total nearly $7,500.
The man is facing two third-degree felony counts of criminal mischief, as well as one class A misdemeanor criminal mischief count. The maximum penalty for third-degree felonies, which correspond to property damages worth between $1,500 and $5,000, is a five-year prison sentence and a $5,000 fine.
The man was not taken into custody. The court issued a summons for the man to appear in court in mid-October.
The man, who is seen in the video in what look like running shorts, told deputies that he was upset that mountain bikers were harming the trails, Wright said.
“There’s no question that there has always been trail conflict for as long as, probably, trails have been around, and it’s typically between people on bicycles and those that are either hiking or running on the trails,” Wright said.
Trail conflicts have simmered in the area for years and at times boiled over as the pandemic drove more people into the outdoors and onto the trail systems in Summit County. Hikers and bikers are often using the same terrain but moving at different speeds and in different directions, leading to congestion and friction over yielding the right of way and maintaining proper trail etiquette.
Wright said he could not confirm whether there were bike racks on the damaged vehicles, which would indicate they were owned by mountain bikers, but did say at least one of the victims was apparently mountain biking in the area.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, the four damaged vehicles included a minivan, an SUV, a pickup truck and a Tesla, which recorded the incident. The four victims were from the Salt Lake Valley. The charging documents only include information about three of the vehicles.
Wright said the man called dispatch on Monday morning and told deputies when he went to the Sheriff’s Office Monday afternoon that he was “upset (mountain bikers) were making a muddy mess on the trails.”
Images of the man and the damage were spread widely on social media, and Wright indicated the Sheriff’s Office likely would have tracked him down if he had not turned himself in.
“We would’ve caught up with this guy pretty quick,” he said. “You can’t have any better evidence than a video of him actually committing the crime.”
Wright indicated this incident was an unusual escalation in the long-running dispute between some bikers and some hikers.
“There’s definitely been kind of a battle, if you will, of trails users,” Wright said. “This has been, I would say, the most extreme thing we’ve seen in a while. I can’t think of a time we have dealt with something to the point of someone destroying people’s property. This is potentially, again, thousands of dollars worth of damage done to vehicles because, basically, someone didn’t know how to control their emotions.”
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