Man pleads guilty for driving stolen car 104 mph, wrong way up I-70 through the Vail Valley

EAGLE — The man who led police on a 17-minute high-speed chase between Gypsum and Eagle around 6:30 a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day admitted to stealing a car at gunpoint from an Aurora Uber driver, then put illegal narcotics into his stolen car and drove it west in the eastbound lane of Interstate 70 through the Vail Valley.

Police say speeds reached over 100 mph.

Five local law enforcement officers kept Ruben Charles Martinez, 24, from causing any head-on collisions, finally stopping him.

Martinez was spotted at 6:34 a.m., on St. Patrick’s Day by an off-duty Colorado State Patrol trooper who was headed west with his family, according to prosecutors. The trooper called it in, setting off the chase.

It’s possible that Martinez might have made it all the way to Glenwood Springs before he turned around and headed back to Eagle County in the wrong lane of I-70, prosecutors said.

Martinez sped up and down I-70 between Eagle and Gypsum, crossing back and forth over the median, driving the wrong way up an entrance ramp, blowing through exit ramps at 40 mph, and leaving the highway by driving the wrong way up entrance ramps, police said.

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Martinez finally stopped at 6:51 a.m., pointed east beside the eastbound lane of I-70 near Eagle.

He climbed halfway out of the stolen white 2008 Chevy Impala, shouting, “Just shoot me! Just shoot me!” according to the arrest affidavit.

The officers — four Eagle County Sheriff’s deputies and an Eagle Police officer — spotted a silver-colored revolver in the middle of the highway. All the rounds had been fired, the arrest affidavit said.

The rear window of the stolen Impala had “exploded,” prosecutors said, in a way that indicated Martinez had shot through it and at the law enforcement officers.

Nine minutes later, at 7 a.m., Martinez was checked into the Eagle County Crossbar Hotel. His pupils were so dilated that deputies could barely determine his eye color when he was booked into the jail. He also had trouble standing up on his own, the arrest affidavit said.

Deputies found cocaine in his wallet when they booked Martinez into the jail. When they searched the stolen car, they found approximately 60 small plastic baggies, the arrest affidavit said. Some contained cocaine, some contained blotters of LSD and another contained amphetamines.

Deputies also soon discovered that Martinez is a convicted felon, that his drivers license had been revoked for felony motor vehicle crimes, and that he was under a restraining order that prohibited him from possessing a gun.

Martinez’s sentencing is scheduled for March 18.

Prosecutors offered him a 24-year prison sentence in exchange for a guilty plea to vehicular eluding aggravated robbery and second-degree assault.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and

via:: Vail Daily