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Viral Facebook post about trapped residents untrue

7:11 PM, Sep 16, 2013   |    comments
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NEAR LOVELAND - The Larimer County Sheriff's Office says people are not trapped on a mountain, contrary to a viral Facebook post claiming residents are trapped by floodwater because a woman will not unlock a gate on her property so people can escape.

The Facebook post had more than 2,700 shares Monday.

The road, used by the residents off Highway 34 west of Loveland near Forest Service land, was washed out by the floods. A "back way" down the mountain is an alternate road, said Andy Hitch, who posted the long message on Facebook.

Hitch made the post after he says he used a dirt bike to reach people in the community. As he was coming back down, he said he met the property owner who first told him he could not cross her property and exit a road through a gate she kept locked.

Eventually, Hitch says she allowed him to pass but he says he told him no one else could exit via her gate.

"She wanted to send me right back where I came from. I had to lie and tell her I was coming off the mountain to get back to my children in the valley," Hitch wrote.

Sheriff's deputies from Larimer County spoke with the woman Monday, a spokesman told 9Wants to Know investigative reporter Jace Larson, and said the woman agreed to let anyone down the mountain, but they could not use her property to get back up.

Larimer County Sheriff spokesman John Schultz said it's not clear whether she ever actually stopped anyone from going up or down the mountain.

Schultz says he doesn't believe anyone is trapped on the mountain. Deputies have been able to evacuate people who want to leave using a back way, but it isn't clear if the route crosses the woman's path.

Hitch told 9Wants to Know that he has since updated his Facebook post and now believes the Colorado National Guard is stopping people from going down Highway 34 because of unstable or washed-out roads miles before the woman's property.

9NEWS could not reach the woman for comment and did not go past road blocks to reach her house.

Schultz said state law allows her to restrict people from crossing her land. However, the law also allows emergency vehicles and first responders to cross private land in an emergency.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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