Family of missing man looking to change Colorado 911 reporting laws

Ashby's family and friends want changed legislature
Ashby's family and friends want changed legislature

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Friends of the man who went missing after his raft flipped on a trip several weeks ago won’t face any charges for failing to report the accident.

Right now, Colorado has mandatory reporting laws only for specific crimes, like child abuse and neglect. If you fail to report these offenses, you could be charged with a class B misdemeanor.

However, the way Colorado law stands right now, there’s nothing illegal about failing to report witnessing serious injury or death.

Since Eric Ashby vanished on the Arkansas River more than five weeks ago, his friends and family want the laws about mandatory reporting to change.

Dave Gambrell is one of Ashby’s best friends, and has been the family spokesperson over the last several weeks.

“When somebody has seen somebody in harm’s way, or somebody sees somebody who has met their fate, it is their civic responsibility as a member of the community, as a member of the state, to report that to authorities,” Gambrell said.

That’s not what happened in Ashby’s case. According to Facebook posts by those that were with Ashby that day, he was spotted alive on a rock, but they froze. They did nothing to help, and they didn’t even call 911.

Currently, there is no Colorado law that requires bystanders to call 911 in emergency situations.

“Unfortunately, it’s when tragedies happen that we realize that laws need to be created,” El Paso County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Jacqueline Kirby said.

Ashby’s family and friends are hoping their loss can help others in the future. Kirby hopes so too.

“It’s just a tragedy, you know, just a tragedy that somebody lost their life, and hopefully we can do something to change the laws,” Kirby said.

“When Eric’s remains are found, when the family is given closure, when there is a ceremony, we are going to attempt to change that state law here in Colorado, and name it Eric’s Law,” Gambrell said.

In Texas, for example, if you are a witness to serious bodily injury or death and fail to report it, you could be charged with a class A misdemeanor. In Ohio, it’s illegal to not report a felony.

As Colorado’s victim’s laws stand right now, if you are a witness to a crime, and you report it, even though you are not required to, you are protected by law enforcement agencies.

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