2019: Officer shot in mouth trying to save suicidal woman


Undersheriff treated and released from 

Mercy Medical Center

Undersheriff Lowrance amazingly suffers only minor injuries

  • Undersheriff Steve Lowrance
    Undersheriff Steve Lowrance

A high-speed pursuit over Molas Pass early on the morning of April 2 ended with the apparent suicide of the driver and Undersheriff Steve Lowrance being injured by a gunshot to the face.

Lowrance was treated and released from Mercy Medical Center, with the bullet reportedly hitting a tooth and piercing a cheek.

Sheriff Bruce Conrad said the initial call came in at about 2:12 a.m. on Tuesday, April 2, that La Plata County and Durango officers were in a high-speed pursuit. Those officers disengaged at the county line.

Undersheriff Lowrance and Deputy Dean Mize joined the pursuit on U.S. 550.

“Our officers continued south, with the intent to lay a spike strip,” Conrad said.

But the subject vehicle appeared sooner than they expected.

At about mile marker 67, just south of Silverton, Lowrance was able to pull in front of the vehicle, and with Deputy Mize’s vehicle behind it, they “boxed it in,” Conrad said.

Conrad said Lowrance approached the vehicle, a silver 4-door Toyota sedan registered out of Colorado Springs.

“There was a driver with a firearm who was suicidal,” Conrad said. “The officer attempted to prevent her from shooting.”

But the gun went off, Conrad said.

“Her wounds were fatal,” Conrad said. And Lowrance “took the bullet that traveled through her in the face.”

San Juan County Coroner Keri Metzler on Wednesday identified the woman as Amanda Maes, 30, of Colorado Springs. Metzler said an autopsy was being conducted on Wednesday.

Undersheriff Lowrance was treated and released from Mercy Medical and is expected to recover fully, Conrad said. 

“He was probably in the hospital about two hours,” Conrad said.

Two passengers from the eluding vehicle were taken into custody and transported to the La Plata County Detention Center. 

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation will be handling the scene and subsequent investigation. 

Conrad said all three in the vehicle “were known to Durango officers,” and he said that illegal drugs were found at the scene.

He said one of the two passengers is being held on a warrant and the other on a probation violation.

As for Lowrance, Conrad said Wednesday morning that “he’s feeling really well but all swollen up. He’s mad I won’t let him come back to work today.”

Conrad said “he feels really sorry that he couldn’t save that woman’s life.”

Conrad said the .380 round hit Lowrance just below his lip, knocking out a tooth. It then traveled five or six inches and exited his cheek.

Conrad said a search for the round was conducted at the scene on Wednesday morning. They were just about to give up.

After passing through Lowrance’s mouth, the round passed two lanes of traffic and put a dent in the rock wall. It was found below the rock in the snow.

Conrad pointed out that had the bullet’s trajectory been different by just a small fraction of an inch, the outcome could have been much worse for Lowrance.

“The bullet had enough energy to kill him,” Conrad said.