Failed monument suicide attempt leads to arrest of Clifton man in sex assault

A 260 ton crane from Girardi’s Towing set up on Rim Rock Drive in the Colorado National Monument pulls a van out of Red Canyon today. The van went off the road January 21 and landed on a rock ledge 120 feet below the roadway and 180 feet above the canyon floor.

A Clifton man who drove his van off a cliff in Colorado National Monument in an apparent suicide attempt is wanted by authorities in the sexual assault of a 4-year-old girl.

A judge Thursday signed a $60,000 warrant accusing Daniel John Lyons, 34, 477 32 1/8 Road, No. 4, of sexual assault on a child, sexual assault on a child in a pattern of abuse and other felony counts.

Mesa County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Heather Benjamin said Friday that Lyons will be arrested upon his release from St. Mary’s Hospital.

Lyons’ condition wasn’t available for release to the media Friday. Hospital spokeswoman Samantha Moe said Lyons isn’t listed in the hospital directory. Lyons declined to comment when reached by phone in his room Thursday.

Lyons’ van dropped off Rim Rock Drive on Wednesday and tumbled about 120 feet into Red Canyon, where it snagged on a rock ledge about 170 feet above the canyon floor. Mesa County Search and Rescue crews rappelled into the canyon and rescued Lyons. Monument Superintendent Joan Anzelmo said officials believe Lyons was trying to kill himself.

The incident happened less than four hours after investigators questioned him in connection with a series of sex assaults reported earlier this week.

The victim’s mother contacted the Sheriff’s Department on Monday. She told investigators that her daughter told her a few nights earlier that Lyons had molested her, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

The 4-year-old told investigators Lyons assaulted her five times. She said Lyons told her not to tell anyone because he would go to jail, the affidavit said.

A second young girl reported that Lyons had tried to assault her but that she didn’t let him, the affidavit said.

Lyons went to the Sheriff’s Department for an interview at 1 p.m. Wednesday, and investigators said he admitted to sexually assaulting the 4-year-old twice. An investigator wrote in the affidavit that he told Lyons he would be seeking a warrant for Lyons’ arrest.

Lyons left the Sheriff’s Department after the interview. He dialed 911 on his cell phone at 4:30 p.m. to report he had driven off the monument but survived.

Lyons has been arrested at least four times on the Western Slope since 1996 on charges including burglary, assault, harassment, trespassing, criminal mischief and driving while ability impaired, according to Colorado Bureau of Investigation records.

The records show he pleaded guilty in 2004 to harassment and was sentenced to a year on probation. The disposition of the other cases was not immediately known.


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