hiker assaulted

Hiker Assaulted by Man Posing as Search & Rescue in Boulder County

BOULDER COUNTY, CO – A Northglenn man has been arrested on charges of Unlawful Sexual Contact by Force and Impersonating a Public Servant after an assault on a hiker that took place near Caribou Road and Forest Service Road 505.

On July 25, 2023, a hiker reported to the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office that she had been approached by an unknown male driving a vehicle labeled “search and rescue.” The man offered her a ride to a different trail. It was during this time that she was sexually and physically assaulted by the man. Fortunately, she was able to separate from the perpetrator and promptly report the incident.

The assailant was described by the victim as a bald, white male in his 50s, donning a grey beard, and was seen wearing a green collared shirt designed in the manner of a search and rescue uniform. The victim mistakenly believed the man was an official representative of a search and rescue organization.

William Tidwell

After an intensive investigation, detectives were able to identify and issue an arrest warrant for 50-year-old William Tidwell of Northglenn. Tidwell was taken into custody by the Idaho Springs Police Department on August 7, 2023.

Authorities are concerned there might be more victims or witnesses to similar incidents, both within and outside Boulder County. Detective Garrett Eastman of the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office is urging anyone with relevant information to contact him at 303-441-3633 or via email at geastman@bouldercounty.gov.

William Tidwell is currently detained at the Boulder County Jail, facing charges of Unlawful Sexual Contact by Force (Felony 4), Second Degree Assault (Felony 4), and Impersonation of a Public Servant (Misdemeanor 2).

Several agencies collaborated in the investigation, including the Boulder County Digital Forensic Lab, Northglenn Police Department, Idaho Springs Police, Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office, Boulder County District Attorney’s Office, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The official case number for the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office related to this incident is 23-04025.

It’s important to note that, as with all criminal cases, the charges against Tidwell are merely accusations. He is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Mountain Safety Tips

The recent incident in Boulder County serves as a stark reminder of the importance of safety when venturing into the great outdoors. Here are some key safety tips to keep in mind while hiking in the mountains:

  1. Stay Informed: Always check the local weather forecast and trail conditions before heading out. This will help you anticipate potential hazards.

  2. Hike with a Companion: Whenever possible, avoid hiking alone. There’s strength in numbers, and a companion can assist in emergencies or deter potential threats.

  3. Leave an Itinerary: Inform a trusted friend or family member of your planned route, expected return time, and any other pertinent details. If anything goes wrong, they’ll know where to start looking.

  4. Be Skeptical of Strangers: While the hiking community is generally friendly, be cautious. If someone offers unsolicited help or a ride, trust your instincts and always prioritize your safety.

  5. Carry a Communication Device: Always have a fully charged phone or radio. Consider investing in a satellite phone or personal locator beacon if you’ll be in remote areas without cell service.

  6. Stay on Marked Trails: Straying from established paths can be dangerous and increase the likelihood of getting lost or encountering wildlife.

Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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Hi, I'm Alex!

In 2018, I watched in disbelief as dozens of people hiked into a storm on Longs Peak, unaware of the extreme danger. Soon after, I started The Next Summit to educate and empower the public to safely and responsibly explore America's mountains.

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