November 7, 2015
At 1211 hours on November 7, 2015, AVSAR Leadership was contacted by Corporal Jason Chacon of the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office concerning a missing hunter in the Lake Como area. Her son called stating that he had not seen her since 0730 hours when they split up to track a deer they had taken a shot at. She was wearing an orange vest, orange hat and black hoodie and only had a pair of binoculars with her. She had headed north of Lake Como and there was no blood trail from the deer to follow. Corporal Chacon was requesting that we put the team on standby. At 1220 hours AVSAR was put on standby. They were advised to bring their 72 hour packs. Shortly after 1300 hours AVSAR was advised the subject had been located. Team members were advised to stand down at 1306 hours.
October 22, 2015
On October 22, 2015, at 0850 hours AVSAR Leadership received a call from Undersheriff Shawn Woods regarding a request from the sheriff of Conejos County for assistance in searching for a missing male subject. We were advised our contact person would be Undersheriff Chris Crowne. At 0905 hours AVSAR Leadership made contact with Undersheriff Crowne. He advised they were searching for a male subject that was overdue since 2130 hours Wednesday night near Schilling Springs located in Conejos County near Terrace Reservoir. AVSAR advised they would send out a page and see what resources they could send their way. At approximately 1002 hours AVSAR Leadership advised they had one member on their way and one more leaving in another hour, with two available to assist in the afternoon. Undersheriff Crowne advised that they were setting up Incident Command at the intersection of Forest Service Road 250 and 251 near Schilling Springs. AVSAR team members arrived at IC at approximately 1240 hours and were deployed into the field. At 1307 hours IC advised the subject had been found. He was located by some other hunters who then took him to IC. At 1308 a page was sent to all remaining AVSAR personnel to stand down.
September 8, 2015
At 2059 hours on September 8, 2015, AVSAR Leadership received a call from Deputy Chris Flores regarding a possible need for SAR assistance on Mt. Blanca along Como Road. The reporting party (3rd party) was concerned that two hikers they had come across along the trail were not prepared to stay overnight on the mountain. AVSAR was advised one subject was wearing shorts, neither were injured and it was unknown if they had any headlamps or flashlights, but were apparently still on the move. Deputy Flores informed AVSAR that he had tried to call the reporting party back but only received their voice mail. We advised the deputy if he made contact with the reporting party again to ask for an updated location and to verify if the subjects had any lighting. We also advised that since they were not injured and were still on the move they should have no problems reaching the bottom. AVSAR Leadership awaited word through the night and was not further contacted by the deputy.
September 6, 2015
At approximately 1856 hours on September 6, 2015, AVSAR Leadership was contacted by Deputy Chris Lavery with the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office regarding an injured male half a mile up the Zapata Trail. He had a knee injury and was inaccessible by EMS. AVSAR contacted several team members in an effort to locate a driver for a four wheeler to drive up the trail and bring the subject down. While en route to the scene the team was advised that the ambulance crew was able to retrieve the subject and carry him to the waiting ambulance. AVSAR was told to stand down at 2049 hours.
September 5, 2015
On September 5, 2015 at approximately 1524 hours, AVSAR Leadership was contacted by Deputy Robert Ward with the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office regarding a 52 yr. old male subject with a possible broken leg. The subject had sent out a distress signal on a Spot device which was received by his wife indicating that he was in need of help. The subject and his hiking partner were located approximately a half mile below Lake Como on Como Road. At 1528 a callout was sent out to team members. After receiving further updates on the subject’s situation the team assembled, gathered equipment and then left Base Camp at 1742 hours in a team member’s truck to drive them partway up the trail. AVSAR received word shortly thereafter that their 4×4 Specialist was en route with an ETA of approximately two hours. The team drove as far as possible and then headed up on foot. Our 4×4 Specialist arrived at Base Camp at 1910 hours and immediately headed up Como Road to meet up with his team. At 2013 hours the team met up with the subject, assessed his injuries and then headed back down. CSP Dispatch was advised at 2109 hours that EMS could head our way. At approximately 2140 hours the team arrived at Base Camp and transferred the subject into the ambulance. The team was debriefed and then headed home at approximately 2220 hours.
August 30, 2015
At approximately 0918 hours on August 30, 2015, AVSAR Leadership was contacted by one of its members regarding a cousin that had gone hiking on Mt. Blanca the previous day. He was to meet family members at 1800 hours Saturday night after his hike and had failed to show up. AVSAR was advised the 30 yr. old male subject had started his hike at 0400 hours and reached the summit at approximately 1000 hours and then headed back down. He was prepared to spend the night if needed, was wearing an orange shirt and was in good physical shape. AVSAR was also made aware that the father and brother were already on the mountain looking for the subject. AVSAR reminded their team member that only a Law Enforcement Agency could official call out our SAR Team and advised they wait until noon before making an official call; due to there being no contact from the subject themselves indicating they were lost or in need of help due to an injury. At 0949 hours AVSAR was contacted by Deputy Jeff Pearson advising the family had contacted CSP Dispatch regarding the overdue hiker. Options were discussed and keeping in mind the family’s concern, it was decided to put the team on standby with a possible callout time of 1200 hours. At 1004 hours AVSAR put their team on standby. At 1008 hours AVSAR was advised that the subject had posted a photo of Mt. Blanca on his Facebook page the evening of August 29th. At approximately 1027 hours AVSAR was advised by Deputy Robert Ward that five Alamosa Police Department officers were on a hike up Mt. Blanca. They were approximately one and half miles from the summit and were advised of the overdue hiker. They had their police radios with them and advised they would keep a lookout for the subject while continuing their way up the mountain. Our team members on standby were advised of the law enforcement presence currently on the mountain. At 1034 hours AVSAR was advised the father had located the subject and he was safe. AVSAR members were advised at 1036 hours
August 8, 2015
At 2340 hours on August 8, 2015, AVSAR Leadership was contacted by Deputy Chris Lavery with the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office. He advised there were two subjects, both 33 yr. old, a male (husband) and female (wife) that had been caught in a heavy thunderstorm hiking down Blanca Peak. They had been hiking since 0800 hours and were now walking down the Como Road, were soaked and cold but were still on the move. At 2346 hours AVSAR began contacting their 4×4 Specialists to see if they were available to head up Como Road and retrieve the hikers. AVSAR Leadership was able to make contact with the subjects at approximately 2349 hours. We confirmed the subjects were approximately one and a half miles below Lake Como and were still on the road. They had head lamps, were freezing, had no medical issues and no means to make a fire. The husband was concerned that his wife was moving too slowly and AVSAR decided that hyperthermia was a serious threat. AVSAR advised them to keep moving and that SAR personnel would meet them along the trail and then give them a ride to their vehicle that was parked at the lower parking area. At 2359 hours Undersheriff Woods was advised of the situation and that a plan was in place to assist the hikers. Deputy Lavery advised he was en route to the Como Trailhead at approximately 0006 hours on August 9, 2015, and would meet up with the SAR personnel. At 0144 hours he advised all had made it safely down from the mountain and the hikers were on their way home.
August 3, 2015
On August 3, 2015, a Monday, AVSAR Leadership was contacted by Undersheriff Shawn Woods at 1938 hours regarding a possible missing 13 year old boy who had walked from a campground near the Sand Dunes, to the store which was a short distance away. He had been missing for one and half hours and we were asked to put the team on standby. Meanwhile there were three deputies sent to the area to begin a search. At 1944 hours AVSAR put the team on standby. At 1951 hours we received a call from Sgt. Judy Jackson that he had been located and was safe and sound. AVSAR advised their team at 1956 that all was well.
July 27, 2015
On July 27, 2015, at approximately 1310 hours AVSAR Leadership received a call from Undersheriff Shawn Woods with the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office regarding a request from Conejos County Sheriff’s Office concerning two male subjects that were overdue from their return near Bended Peak. AVSAR Leadership contacted Undersheriff Chris Crown with the Conejos County Sheriff’s Office at 1335 hours and went over options available. It was decided to call in COSAR. At 1343 hours Undersheriff Woods advised the two male subjects had been located.
July 27, 2015
At 0840 hours on Monday morning, July 27, 2015, AVSAR Leadership received a call from the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Robert Jackson wanted to meet regarding a missing male subject in Conejos County. They wanted to call in more resources to conduct a grid search in the area where the subject was last seen. He was a 19 year old male wearing running shorts and tennis shoes. He had arrived Thursday morning, July 23, 2015 at the Rainbow Trout Ranch and had gone jogging that afternoon. No one had had any contact with him after that. Numerous resources had been used throughout the weekend including air support, search dogs and at least fifty people on the ground with no sign of the subject. AVSAR sent out a callout to their team at 0929 hours. AVSAR team members along with the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Posse and Reserve, headed to Conejos County to assist in the search at approximately 1115 hours. At 2001 hours part of our team returned to Alamosa County while the rest remained on the search. At 2108 the remaining team members headed back to Alamosa County. Throughout the week AVSAR assisted in the ongoing search along with members from several SAR teams that had been called in by COSAR. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation was called in on Thursday, July 30, 2015 to help in the search by way of investigating any further leads. On Friday at approximately 1510 hours our team headed back home and the search was turned back over to the Conejos County Sheriff. On Monday, August 3, 2015, the Conejos County Sheriff’s Office officially called off the search. They stated that all leads had been exhausted and even though the search had been stopped the investigation would continue.
July 24, 2015
At approximately 1145 hours on July 24, 2015, AVSAR Leadership was contacted by CSP Dispatch with a possible assist request from Saguache County for a fallen hiker. AVSAR Leadership placed a call to Saguache County Sheriff’s Office at 1148 hours and was told they were trying to reach a hiker that had fallen from a height of 800 to 1000 feet and were in the process of trying to make contact for a helicopter with a hoist system. They needed team members as well as technical equipment to reach the subject. AVSAR sent out a request to their technical team at 1159 hours. It was determined that we did not have enough technical team members available to send to Saguache County and a call was made to the Saguache Dispatch to advise them. They advised they were still awaiting word on a chopper with a hoist and had put in a call to several SAR teams in the surrounding area. At 1230 hours AVSAR team members were told to stand down. The subject was eventually recovered and taken out on the Custer County side of the Crestone Needles and then air lifted by a Blackhawk helicopter.
July 10, 2015
At approximately 1500 hours on July 10, 2015, AVSAR Leadership was advised by CSP Dispatch that there was a possible severely injured hiker on Mt. Blanca. The call was received from a 911 only phone and they were unable to verify the subject’s location which he advised was on the peak of Mt. Blanca. Classic Air Medical located out of Los Alamos, New Mexico lifted three AVSAR hasty team members to a landing zone near Blue Lake. While they made their way up the mountain a ground team headed up by four wheel drive and the remaining team members were called out for an early morning ascent. The hasty team searched the peak until 2300 hours and was unable to locate the subject. Both teams camped on the mountain over-night and at daylight began searching once more. Still unable to locate the supposedly injured subject AVSAR called Flight For Life to do a search of all peaks on the mountain in case the subject was mistaken about their location. FFL searched each peak and ridge three times and was also unable to locate the subject. Due to the call coming in on a 911 only phone we were not able to obtain any further information on a possible location. All vehicles along the Como Road were checked via ASO Deputies to verify if any of them were listed in the subject’s name. None were a match. After a further ground search at the top of the mountain still showed no evidence of an injured hiker, Sheriff Jackson advised Incident Command to call off the search at 1030 hours. As the teams made their way back down the mountain they checked with numerous campers and hikers along the way. None had seen any injured hikers. At 1615 hours all AVSAR Team members were safely back at Base Camp and their mission was over.
July 9, 2015
At 1713 hours on July 9, 2015, AVSAR Leadership was contacted by Deputy Jeff Pearson with the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office regarding two lost hikers in the Mt. Blanca area. The subjects had advised CSP Dispatch that they had lost their way in the fog, had food and only one blanket. The phone call was cut short as the subject advised their phone was dying. The location of the cell phone call showed their location to be at the top of the ridge and it was unclear as to whether they were actually in Alamosa or Costilla County. AVSAR team members were put on standby at 1754 hours. AVSAR leadership was able to make contact with the subject at 1915 hours. They advised they were on the move, scared, could see a lake and were walking in snow. They also advised they were trying to reach the tree line and would try to build a fire. AVSAR updated the Alamosa County deputy on duty, Sgt. Adam Abeyta and then received a call from Costilla County Deputy Quintana who advised that he had obtained a photo that the subject had sent to a friend showing where they were. He believed they were in Costilla County and partway down the mountain. AVSAR Leadership put him in contact with their field leader who concurred that the subjects were headed down into the Blanca Basin. Deputy Quintana advised he would send their deputies up the mountain to try and make contact with the subjects and no longer needed our assist. AVSAR Leadership asked their team to stand down at 2013 hours.
At approximately 0845 on Friday, July 10, 2015 AVSAR Leadership received a call from Sheriff Robert Jackson with the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office advising that the subjects were still on the mountain. AVSAR sent another callout to their team. Five SAR personnel, along with a fixed wing plane with the Sheriff aboard and a helicopter searched for the subjects. They were located by the chopper but continued to move. ATVs were brought in as well. At approximately 1500 hours AVSAR Leadership was advised of a possible injured hiker on Mt. Blanca. Some of our resources were pulled from Costilla County and routed back to Alamosa County. Several searchers remained on ATVs and continued searching until it became dark.
On Saturday July 11, 2015, at 1330 hours AVSAR Leadership was once again contacted by Costilla County advising that the subjects were still on the mountain. AVSAR advised due to their on-going mission on Mt. Blanca that they could send two team members to assist. As our team members were preparing to leave, Costilla County once again advised they did not need us to respond. At approximately 1700 hours the subjects were lifted out by hoist system via a Blackhawk helicopter.
June 28, 2015
On June 28, 2015, at 1535 hours AVSAR Leadership was contacted by CSP Dispatch regarding a request for assistance from the on duty Alamosa Sheriff’s Office deputies. They were on an ambulance assist at Zapata Falls for a thirty year old female with a possible broken ankle. She was located approximately a quarter mile from the parking lot at the picnic area. EMS was unable to reach her and was requesting a few SAR personnel and an ATV to bring her down. A call was made to three team members with two ATVs at approximately 1540 hours (one located in Mosca and the other two in Alamosa). One ASAR team member, along with his personal 4-wheeler, arrived on scene at 1651 hours. At 1715 hours a Sand Dunes Ranger on scene advised the subject was safely in the ambulance and en route to the SLV Heath Center. All remaining AVSAR personnel en route were advised to stand down and thanked for their participation.
June 27, 2015
At 0909 hours on June 27, 2015, AVSAR Leadership received a call from a female subject. She asked if she had reached Emergency Services. When we asked what it was she needed she replied never mind, that her phone was dying. At 0910 a text was sent to her number advising that we were a SAR team. AVSAR called back at 0922 hours and the call went directly to her voice mail. Since we could only assume her phone needed to be charged we were unable to make further contact. At 1114 hours AVSAR received a text from the subject indicating that she had an injured dog and was trying to make her way back from Lake Como. Fortunately she had received a ride from another party and all was well.
April 15, 2015
At 2131 hours on April 15, 2015, AVSAR Leadership received a call from the CSP Dispatch with a request to contact Deputy Shook with the Costilla County Sheriff’s Office. At 2134 AVSAR Leadership contacted Deputy Shook and was advised there may be some missing persons from Alamosa that were supposed to be at a cabin located in the mountains in their jurisdiction and had not been heard from since Tuesday morning (April 14, 2015). The reporting party insisted that they were overdue and due to the road conditions he was unable to check on the parties in his patrol car. He was requesting a four wheel drive vehicle if they were unable to locate a qualified person with one in their area and he was currently awaiting word. At 2154 hours Deputy Shook called and advised they had located someone to check on the possible missing persons. AVSAR Leadership contacted CSP Dispatch at 2155 hours and advised that our team would not be called out to assist Costilla County unless they received further requests. AVSAR Leadership confirmed the following day that the individuals were located safely.
March 8, 2015
At approximately 1857 hours on March 8, AVSAR Leadership received a call from Sgt. Judy Jackson with the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office regarding a missing child at the Sand Dunes. He was a seven year old that had apparently become separated from his family while hiking on the Dunes around 1730 hours and after searching for him for an hour they called in reinforcements. He was wearing a heavy jacket but was bare foot, and after a forty-five minute search on behalf of the rangers, they requested further assistance due to only one hour of daylight remaining. An AVSAR callout was sent out at approximately 1903 hours. The Park Rangers, AVSAR personnel, as well as the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office and several other agencies, searched until around midnight with no luck. While several AVSAR and Park Ranger personnel remained in the area continuing the search, the remainder began to regroup for an early morning search, which was to include air support. The Alamosa County Victim’s Advocates provided fruit and water for the searchers. Soon after dawn on Monday, March 9, 2015 the boy was located near the Oasis on Hwy 150 by a Colorado State Trooper. He was unharmed but taken to the hospital as a precaution. Shortly after all remaining AVSAR team members responding and those already on scene were advised the mission was over.
November 6, 2014
At approximately 0737 hours on November 6, 2014, AVSAR Leadership received a call from the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office regarding a missing runaway. She was an eleven year old that appeared to have left her home sometime in the night. Her parents advised they had not seen her since 2030 hours when she went to bed and she was not in her bed the next morning when they checked her room at 0630 hours. They last saw her wearing light blue colored pajamas and the two blankets on her bed were missing as well. A callout was sent to team members at 0749 hours advising responding team members to go directly to the family home where they were to be briefed by Deputy Ric Martinez. Along with AVSAR team members several ASO Posse/Reserve members and ASO Victim’s Advocates responded as well. Teams checked out buildings, fields and other structures as well as haystacks and contacted numerous neighbors in an attempt to locate the young girl. At 1047 hours a family member located her across the road from the family home hiding in a culvert. Although she appeared unharmed an ambulance was called and she was taken to the SLV Health Center. Deputy Martinez contacted Mental Health so they could follow up as this was the second time she had run away in less than two weeks. At 1050 hours all team members still en route were advised to stand down and that the child was found safe.
October 28, 2014
On October 28, 2014, at 2156 hours AVSAR Leadership was contacted by the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office regarding a missing eleven year old female who had left the Hooper Pool area. She was wearing a swim suit and towel and apparently had had a disagreement with some family members. Due to the cold weather in our area we were asked to assist in the search. At 2202 hours AVSAR sent a callout to their team to respond to the Hooper Pool. At 2223 we received word that she had been located standing by the road and was uninjured. A stand down page was sent out to the team.
October 5, 2014
On October 5, 2014, at approximately 1115 hours CSP Dispatch contacted AVSAR regarding an injured hiker in the area of Mt. Blanca/Little Bear Peak, on the east side of the first tower (later determined to be on the south side). The subject was a twenty-six year old male with a possible broken ankle. He had taken a fifteen foot fall and landed on his left foot. Dispatch advised that Deputy Jeff Pearson was requesting a callout. At 1122 hours AVSAR was contacted by Deputy Pearson who advised that the Sheriff had been notified and gave AVSAR approval to utilize Fight For Life (FFL) for assistance with this Search and Rescue mission. At 1126 hours AVSAR began the callout. At 1212 hours AVSAR was advised by Deputy Jason Chacon that he had printed out maps for the team of the subject’s location and would be available to assist. At approximately 1215 AVSAR contacted FFL and advised them of their impending mission. AVSAR contacted CSP Dispatch at 1230 hours to request mutual aid from Colorado Search and Rescue (COSAR) due to the possibility of a carry out of the injured subject. At 1233 hours Deputy Chacon advised that AVSAR Rescue One was fueled and en route. FFL was contacted at 1247 hours and advised of our teams’ ETA to the Como Trailhead. AVSAR received a call from COSAR at 1248 hours regarding our request for assistance. They advised they would do what they could to help but due to the distance they would have to travel it would be some time before they would reach our rescue site. AVSAR informed COSAR they would keep them updated as to the severity of our rescue. At 1310 hours AVSAR requested mutual aid from Saguache County Search and Rescue. At 1344 FFL advised their helicopter would be at the staging area at approximately 1430 hours to air lift members of the AVSAR team. At 1404 hours AVSAR spoke with Saguache County SAR and explained what the situation was. They advised they would contact their team. At 1435 hours Deputy Chacon asked for an update on our mission. At 1506 hours Saguache County SAR advised they would have a few members available later in the evening. At approximately 1513 hours AVSAR contacted Deputy Chacon regarding negative contact with Search Base. Deputy Chacon contacted CSP Dispatch and they received negative results as well. AVSAR made contact with FFL and confirmed that two team members were being flown to a landing zone (LZ) two miles from the injured subject and that everything okay. They asked that FFL relay a message for Search Base to contact AVSAR. AVSAR contacted CSP Dispatch at 1523 hours and gave them an update that everyone was okay and that a two man team had been flown in via FFL. At approximately 1539 hours it was decided to have Saguache County SAR and COSAR stand down since a carry out would not be possible in the rugged terrain and the subject would probably be flown out. At 1604 hours an update was received from the field team that they were en route to the subject. At approximately 1729 hours FFL was given an update. AVSAR advised FFL at 1734 hours that the subject/patient would arrive at the upper LZ earlier than first expected. Search One arrived at LZ at 1804 hours. FFL was advised at 1810 hours and they advised they were waiting for their night pilot and would call with an ETA. At 1827 hours FFL advised their ETA would be 1900 hours and asked that we confirm patient’s weight. At 1843 hours AVSAR advised FFL the patient’s weight was 120 pounds and they informed us that their ETA would be 1910 hours. At 1925 FFL left the staging area at Search Base en route to the upper LZ. Upon arrival they discovered it was too windy to make a safe landing in the dark. They called off their attempt to land and headed back to their home base. At 2011 AVSAR was asked by Search Base to contact the Sheriff to see if we could get military air support in to assist with removal of those on the mountain. AVSAR contacted Sgt. Judy Jackson with this request. At 2022 hours Sgt. Jackson advised due to the wind and darkness they would not be able to respond. AVSAR advised Search Base. At 2035 hours Search One, which consisted of two team members, and the patient/subject and his hiking partner, began setting up a shelter in the rocks at ~12,500 feet. Search Base requested FFL fly in at first light. FFL was contacted at 2041 hours and confirmed at 2108 hours that they would plan on a morning arrival time at 0730 hours the morning of September 6, 2014, weather permitting. Search One would walk out and be picked up by our 4×4 Specialist. At 0654 hours on September 6, 2014, AVSAR was contacted by FFL and advised they were still a go for the flight. Search Base and Search One were both advised. At 0717 hours FFL called with an update advising they would be at the staging area at Search Base at 0745 hours. At 0759 hours the chopper left for the LZ and Search One was advised to contact them direct. At 0801 hours CSP Dispatch was advised. At approximately 0830 hours FFL called off their landing due to high winds. AVSAR contacted Sheriff Dave Stong at 0838 advising that they had four people still on the mountain, one of whom was injured, and that they could not spend another night due to the cold and lack of supplies. He stated he would contact the National Guard. Sheriff Stong advised us at 0910 that it would be one to two hours before they could confirm whether or not we would get air support. Search One was advised at 0920 hours and they advised they would continue to move down the rugged terrain in the event air support was not available. At 0927 hours AVSAR contacted CSP Dispatch for mutual aid from Costilla County. At 0930 hours AVSAR received a call from Costilla County Under-Sheriff Espinosa. They briefly explained the situation on the mountain and asked them to contact Search Base for more information. At 0938 hours Under-Sheriff Espinosa advised he was unable to reach Search Base. Due to the lack of cell phone service and the fact that Search One had entered into Costilla County and would be in their jurisdiction, Search Base was moved to Blanca. They were advised when they had reached cell phone service to contact the Under-Sheriff. At approximately 0942 CSP Dispatch was updated on our status and advised that air support was being brought in. At 0945 hours Sheriff Stong was also updated. AVSAR contacted Saguache County SAR of the change in our status at 0955 hours and asked that they be available in the event air support was not available. At approximately 1013 hours AVSAR was advised that Search Base had been set up in the parking lot of Lu’s Café in Blanca. While a weather clearance was being obtained the National Guard was advised that Search One was near a 100 foot field that would be a sufficient LZ. At 1027 hours Search Base requested another radio and more batteries. AVSAR contacted their Liaison Deputy Jeff Pearson who assisted in obtaining and delivering the radios. At 1030 hours Search One advised they were located by a creek and had a water pump. At 1042 Sheriff Stong advised that the chopper was a go and obtained an exact location from Search One via triangulation from CSP Dispatch and Search Base. At 1105 Sheriff Stong advised the chopper’s arrival time would be at 1430 hours and Search One was told to wait where they currently were and to try and stay warm. At 1242 hours an ETA was updated to 45 minutes for arrival of the chopper. At 1325 hours Search One advised they had the chopper in sight. An ambulance was paged to Ft. Garland to meet the chopper and at 1346 hours the chopper landed in the baseball field near Ft. Garland with two members of Search One and rescued individuals. The patient was taken to the SLV Heath Center in Alamosa. At 1357 hours Saguache County SAR was asked to stand down, along with the remaining AVSAR members en route, and was thanked for their assistance.
September 29, 2014
On September 29, 2014, at 1641 hours AVSAR Leadership was contacted by Deputy Robert Ward with the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office regarding two possible missing subjects in the Zapata Falls area. They were two females ages 67 and 70 who had been hiking in search of pinon trees. The reporting party was one of the subject’s husbands who reported that they called him saying they were lost and scared. He stated they did not have any gear for the impending weather or an overnight stay and he advised them to head downhill. At 1645 hours AVSAR Leadership sent out a callout to their team to respond to the Zapata Falls area. At 1719 hours AVSAR Leadership contacted Deputy Ward for an update and was advised they had two deputies waiting in the Zapata Subdivision in case the subjects headed that direction and several near the falls parking area. AVSAR Leadership advised their team members were en route. At 1744 Deputy Ward advised the female subjects had been located and were safe. AVSAR Leadership contacted their team members and told them to stand down.
August 19, 2014
On August 19, 2014 at 0940 hours AVSAR Leadership was contacted by the Alamosa County Animal Control Officer Donnie Soapes, per Lt. James McCloskey’s request, regarding a dog call he had just received. The animal had apparently fallen into an old mine shaft and was unable to get out on his own. AVSAR Leadership contacted the reporting party at 0944 hours to obtain more information. They were told the dog had fallen in while chasing a rabbit and they could hear noises coming from the bottom of the mine shaft. We inquired as to the location of the mine shaft and were informed that it was five miles north of the town of Blanca. AVSAR Leadership confirmed with the reporting party that the location of the mine shaft was in Costilla County and not Alamosa County. The reporting party was told to call CSP Dispatch and inform them that this was a Costilla County call. At 0951 hours AVSAR Leadership called Animal Control Officer Soapes back letting him know of the jurisdiction of this call. After confirming with several of the AVSAR Team Members if they would be able to help with rappelling down and retrieving the dog in the event Costilla County requested our assistance, AVSAR Leadership placed another call to the reporting party. They stated that the dog had been in the mine shaft since Sunday night, August 17, and that the dog owner thought they had reached someone with the skills to rescue the dog. Prior to this option someone from Denver had offered to come down but was going to charge the dog owner $2000.00 to rescue the dog. AVSAR Leadership passed on their willingness to assist if needed and for him to let the deputy know. The reporting party advised he would call by 1600 hours if the person they had lined up was unable to complete the rescue. At 1652 hours AVSAR Leadership contacted their team and advised them they had not had any further contact with the reporting party or dog owner.
August 17, 2014
On August 17, 2014, at 2006 hours the Alamosa Sheriff’s Office received a request via the Colorado State Patrol that Costilla County Sheriff’s Office/SAR was requesting our assist with a male subject that was in need of medical attention in the area of Blanca Falls, located north of the Blanca Subdivision. Their EMS was having difficulty locating the subject and had lost cell service with the reporting party. At 2016 hours AVSAR Leadership put the team on standby for a possible callout Monday morning at 0800 hours. At 2041 hours AVSAR Leadership contacted their Liaison Deputy Jeff Pearson and advised him of a possible callout. AVSAR Leadership received another call from Deputy Lavery at approximately 2043 hours advising that he had received an update from Costilla County that there were two male subjects and that EMS and Fire had been able to locate them. One subject was having difficulty breathing and the other was having seizures and they advised that Flight for Life had also been contacted. They believed that the subjects were experiencing high altitude sickness and due to their location they needed high angle gear to get them down safely. Deputy Pearson advised at 2048 hours that Lt. James McCloskey had been advised of the situation and at 2057 hours AVSAR Leadership sent out a callout for a team of technical climbers and our 4×4 specialist. At approximately 2114 hours AVSAR Leadership advised Deputy Lavery that we did not have many responders available for this assist. He contacted Costilla County IC to advise them and was informed that several of their members had some training in high angle and that if we could supply additional technical equipment and a few climbers that the subjects could be brought down. At 2204 hours Costilla County was advised that AVSAR was en route. At approximately 2215 hours Costilla County was able to bring one of the male subjects safely down. At 2304 hours they reported that the remaining male subject was stable. At approximately 0001 hours on Monday August 18, 2014, the rescue team reached the second subject. Using lights to signal one another the rescuers slowly made their way down the mountain and reached Incident Command at approximately 0244 hours.
July 31, 2014
On Thursday July 31, 2014, at approximately 2316 hours AVSAR Leadership was contacted by the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office and informed that there were two hikers, a male and a female; that might be lost on Mt. Blanca. They had not been heard from since 2000 hours on Wednesday, July 30, 2014 and had limited alpine experience. Our Liaison Deputy Jeff Pearson was requesting that we put the team on standby. At 2318 AVSAR Leadership began contacting team members that we were on standby for two possible missing hikers on Mt. Blanca. At 0645 hours on August 1, 2014, AVSAR Leadership contacted the Colorado State Patrol Dispatch to obtain a status on the callout. They referred our call to Lt. James McCloskey who called just a minute later. AVSAR Leadership explained that they were on standby and were requesting an update. Lt. McCloskey called Deputy Pearson and then we received another call from the Lieutenant at approximately 0655 hours stating that the deputies on duty the night before decided to wait until noon on Friday before calling for an official callout. AVSAR Leadership relayed the information to the team. AVSAR Leadership received a phone call from the dad of the two hikers stating he had been in contact with them and they were safe and the team was notified at approximately 0930 hours to stand down.
July 27, 2014
On July 27, 2014, at approximately 1628 hours AVSAR Leadership was contacted by the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office and informed of a possible search needed in the Zapata Falls area. Deputy Kayla Covington informed us that a male subject had gotten separated from his hiking partner and had not been heard from for thirty minutes and that he believed he was lost. He was soaked from the rain, had only one candy bar with him and was on blood thinners. While AVSAR Leadership was in the process of obtaining more information they were informed by Deputy Covington at approximately 1638 hours that the hiker had been located.
July 27, 2014
On July 27, 2014, at approximately 1216 hours AVSAR Leadership was contacted by the Colorado State Patrol Dispatch with a request to contact Deputy Kayla Covington regarding a male subject lost in the Mt. Blanca region. AVSAR Leadership contacted Deputy Covington and was informed that the male subject was nervous about coming back down the mountain and had gotten caught in a severe mountain thunderstorm. AVSAR Leadership advised Deputy Covington that they needed more information in order to determine whether a callout was in order for AVSAR’s team. Via a three way conversation with the subject it was determined that he was soaked from the rain and his only protection from the rain was a rain poncho, he had a walking stick and helmet and no further gear. It was determined that he was possibly suffering from hypothermia and therefore may not make it down the mountain under his own power. He was located approximately 1000 feet below Ellingwood Peak and was halfway between the peak and Crater Lake. AVSAR Leadership began making contact with its members who included high angle, horseback and 4×4 units. At 1320 hours AVSAR Leadership was advised by Deputy Covington that she had lost contact with the subject while on the phone and could only hear breathing in the background. She could not get him to respond to her voice. At 1326 hours Flight For Life was put on standby. Members began arriving at Base Camp at the Como Trailhead by 1411 hours. Within the hour several teams were en route up the mountain. While en route the 4×4 vehicles carrying Search Team One and Two encountered a suburban that had rolled over on its side blocking the road. Search Team One and Two had to continue on foot which slowed their progress in reaching the subject. Truck Team remained at their current location. At 1711 hours AVSAR Leadership received an update that Search Team One and Two were still en route and that the Horse Team was still on the move, but the going was slow. At approximately 1755 hours Team One advised they had the subject in sight. At 1842 hours Team One advised they had reached the subject and were in process of getting him into some dry clothing. At 1910 hours they began their descent down the mountain. At 1918 hours Search Team Two advised they were near Search Team One’s location and would standby. The Horse Team reached the Truck Team’s location and advised they would remain there to rest the horses. This was our first time utilizing the horses and with the rain soaked trail they were not as sure footed as on dry land. As nightfall approached the Team One and Two’s progress slowed and by approximately 2140 hours they had reached the waterfall. AVSAR Leadership was notified at 0554 hours that all parties had made it safely down the mountain and had reached base camp and our mission was a success.
July 8, 2014
On July 8, 2014, at approximately 0952 hours AVSAR Leadership was contacted by the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office and asked to put the team on standby for a missing hiker at the Sand Dunes National Park. Within minutes a full callout was requested. At 1009 hours AVSAR Leadership contacted its team and advised them to meet at the Sand Dunes Visitor Center to assist the Park Service in the search of a missing male in his mid-twenties. He had little food or water and was not dressed for our cold summer nights. He had been hiking with a friend and they had gotten separated the day before (approximately 0200 hours on July 7, 2014). At approximately 1808 hours it was decided to call in air support for the next day. AVSAR Leadership sent out a second call out for a morning response at 2047 hours to meet at the Sand Dunes Visitor Center. At 1707 hours AVSAR Leadership received a call from Lt. James McCloskey with the Sheriff’s Office who informed us that the hiker had been located at the Sand Dunes Oasis by a NPS Ranger at approximately 1703 hours. He was safe and uninjured. At 1710 hours the team was advised our first mission of the year was completed with a positive outcome.
November 26, 2013
On November 26, 2013 at 1749 hours AVSAR Leadership received a call from the Colorado State Patrol Dispatch regarding a request from Corporal Lisa Benavidez with the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office to give her a call regarding a possible missing person. AVSAR Leadership made contact with Corporal Benavidez at approximately 1750 hours who stated they had a missing male subject in the area of the 8RR and Valley Vista. He had not been seen for forty minutes and was on foot. Due to temperature being quite cold in our area the Sheriff gave her permission to call out Search and Rescue. At 1753 hours AVSAR Leadership tried calling the reporting party to get more information and an exact location where the male subject was last seen. We received no answer and left a message on his voice mail. While awaiting a return call Corporal Benavidez called back at 1756 hours stating that the man had been located and was safe.
November 24, 2013
On November 24, 2013 at 2130 hours AVSAR Leadership received a call from the Colorado State Patrol Dispatch regarding a request from Corporal Lisa Benavidez with the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office that our team be called out for an intoxicated male subject that was located on the tallest dune in the Sand Dunes National Park. He was unable to walk down and had a female subject with him. We were also advised that NPS Rangers had been called out as well and were en route. At 2141 hours AVSAR Leadership called the team out to assist the rangers and be on hand in the event the subject or rescuers were in need of further assistance due to cold challenge. It had been snowing for two days and our area was experiencing very cold temperatures. At 2144 hours AVSAR Leadership contacted CSP Dispatch and advised our team had been called out and confirmed that the subject was not injured. At approximately 2215 hours NPS Rangers along with a litter and a CSP Trooper began making their way up the dunes. Via cell phone the female subject advised she could see the lights from the vehicles and shortly thereafter they advised they could see her headlamp. At 2251 hours the CSP Trooper advised he could hear the NPS Rangers and female subject making contact by voice only and it was snowing heavily. At approximately 2302 hours NPS Rangers advised they were in contact with the subjects. They advised the male subject was complaining of being cold but was otherwise uninjured. They placed the male subject on the litter and began making their way down the dunes. At 2311 hours CSP Trooper advised the female subject was okay and he would be assisting the rangers with the litter. At 2315 Deputy Benavidez advised that she and an AVSAR member were partway up and were going to standby until needed. At 2317 hours the remaining AVSAR members responding were asked to standby at the parking lot while the AVSAR member staged with the deputy began assisting with the litter. At 2330 hours the CSP Trooper advised all were okay and continuing down at which time a second AVSAR member met them and took over for the Trooper on the litter. At 2352 hours the subject reached the parking lot and was taken to the hospital via ambulance. All rescuers were accounted for and cleared the scene.
September 22, 2013
On September 22, 2013 at 2017 hours AVSAR Leadership received a call from the Colorado State Patrol Dispatch regarding a request from Colorado Search and Rescue to assist them on a mission. At approximately 2024 hours AVSAR Leadership contacted Woody with COSAR. He stated that they were lining up searchers for Monday and Tuesday to look for a 37 year old male that had been missing since September 17, 2013. His vehicle had been located and they were to search from a point located approximately an hour from the West Cliff Sheriff’s Office/Search and Rescue IC and were to brief at 0900 hours. At 2034 hours AVSAR Leadership contacted their team to see if anyone was available to assist. At 2105 hours AVSAR Leadership again contacted COSAR and explained that due to work obligations and a lack of response from its members they would not be sending anyone from the AVSAR Team.
September 15, 2013
On September 15, 2013, at 1835 hours AVSAR Leadership received a call from the Colorado State Patrol Dispatch that there was an injured male hiker at Zapata Falls. The reporting party had left the fall area to receive cell phone service and was reporting that he had fallen and was bleeding from the face. AVSAR Leadership tried contacting the reporting party at 1838 hours to obtain additional information but did not receive an answer. At 1841 hours a callout was sent out to all team members to see who was available to assist with this rescue in the event they were needed to assist the injured subject down from the fall area. At 1903 AVSAR Leadership contacted CSP Dispatch to give them an update on their members responding and was told they had just received a call from Corporal Lisa Benavidez of the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office that the subject had been able to reach the campground. He had an injured ankle and shoulder as well as his cuts on his face and was going to be transferred to the hospital by EMS. AVSAR Leadership sent out a stand down call to all members at 1906 hours advising that the injured hiker had made it down safely.
September 14, 2013
On September 14, 2013, at 1108 hours AVSAR Leadership received a call from Deputy Robert Ward with the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office regarding a missing child. He requested our assistance at a location near County Road 108 and County Road 12 South in Alamosa County. She was seven years old with brown hair and blue eyes wearing a multi colored coat and carrying a purple backpack. It was not known for certain if she had run away or was missing and we were informed that this same situation had occurred before with this same little girl. The Colorado State Patrol, Alamosa Fire Department, Alamosa County Victim’s Advocates and the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Posse/Reserve were all called out as well. At 1114 hours AVSAR Leadership sent out a callout to their team. Acting IC Deputy Ward set up a line search in all four directions from the house as well as sending search members house to house. At approximately 1348 hours Sgt. Ann Robinson with the Colorado State Patrol located the missing child. A resident in the area had found small footprints around one of their out buildings and had seen something purple in the field. They directed the searchers to the location and the girl was found. At 1353 hours AVSAR Leadership notified the team that the child had been found safe and uninjured and that our remaining members could stand down. At 1425 our team was clear of this mission.
August 18, 2013
On August 18, 2013, at 0732 hours AVSAR Leadership received a call from Deputy Kayla Covington with the Alamosa Sheriff’s Office that we needed to contact the Colorado State Patrol Dispatch regarding a possible Search and Rescue callout. At 0737 hours AVSAR Leadership contacted Melanie at CSP Dispatch and was advised that the Sands Dunes rangers had a possible missing female. AVSAR Leadership contacted Ranger Jim Hensley at 0740 hours. Ranger Hensley advised they were getting ready to go into a briefing and that the subject had not been heard from since Saturday afternoon. AVSAR Leadership put the team on standby at 0754 hours and then waited for an update from the Sand Dunes Nat’l Park Service. At 0814 hours Ranger Hensley called with an update from their briefing at their Incident Command. The subject was a female age 21 who was wearing a light weight tank top and black pants. They had their last contact with her by cell phone near Mosca Pass; however some of the scenery she described did not fit the area and they felt she was becoming disoriented. They did not know how much water she had with her or which direction of travel she had taken. She had seen a mountain lion and in an effort to distance herself from the wild animal she had lost sight of the trail. She had no known medical conditions and was from Minnesota. Their rangers had been searching the Alamosa County side and had not located any tracks. SDNPS was requesting we help out on the Huerfano County side of Mosca Pass. At 0849 hours the AVSAR Team was called out and given the information on hand. At 0911 hours AVSAR Leadership contacted IC and gave them an update on the team’s response. At 0916 hours Ranger Hensley advised that we were to respond to the Sand Dunes Fire Cache to assist on the Alamosa County side. Huerfano County was to contact COSAR for assistance at that time. At 0951 hours the AVSAR Rescue Rig was en route to IC. At 1129 hours AVSAR Leadership received an update from Base Camp that they need another 4×4 vehicle to head up to Mosca Pass and additional personnel to relieve a few already there later in the day. AVSAR sent out a second callout and made contact with a 4×4 Specialist. He advised his ETA would be one hour. AVSAR Leadership contacted Base Camp at 1145 hours regarding the 4×4 Specialist and was advised they had just received word that the subject had possibly been located in Huerfano County and to have the 4×4 Specialist standby until further word was received. At 1204 hours subject was located by a Huerfano County Firefighter and that she was uninjured and wanted to walk back to her car. Two AVSAR personnel headed up to meet her on the Alamosa County side and made sure she reached her vehicle safely. At 1313 hours all team members had reached Base Camp and were accounted for.
June 19, 2013
On June 19, 2013, at 1104 hours AVSAR Leadership received a call from the Colorado State Patrol Dispatch that a jeep had rolled over on Lake Como Road approximately two miles from the Como Trailhead. There were three passengers and the third had been ejected during the roll over. Sand Dunes National Park Rangers, CSP Troopers and Mosca Fire Department were already en route and they were concerned whether or not their vehicles could make it up to the accident scene. FFL had also been put on standby. AVSAR Leadership sent a callout to their team at approximately 1109 hours. At 1112 hours contact was made with one of our 4×4 specialist requesting that they may need to head that way. Corporal Judy Jackson arrived at the Como Trailhead at approximately 1117 hours and advised that the Sand Dunes Rangers were trying to make it up the road. AVSAR leadership contacted CSP Dispatch at 1120 hours to confirm how far up Como Road the accident had occurred. At 1126 hours CSP Dispatch confirmed that the accident was further up and that the Sand Dunes truck with a Trooper aboard had made it up four miles and could go no further and still had not located the jeep. They were to walk the remaining distance which turned out to be less than a mile. AVSAR Leadership advised that our 4×4 specialist was en route. AVSAR made contact with our 4×4 specialist at 1127 hours and confirmed they were en route. At 1144 hours AVSAR Leadership was contacted by the reporting party advising us that one of the injured was a member of our team. Two were injured and the third seriously. At approximately 1147 hours Deputy Jeff Pearson arrived on scene and relieved Corporal Jackson. At 1214 hours our 4×4 specialist advised they were thirty minutes from the trailhead. At 1215 hours AVSAR Leadership was advised that FFL was en route and was to see if they could land near the accident. They were unable to do so and staged themselves at Base Camp near the Como Road Trailhead. At 1326 hours the first victim was brought down by vehicle and taken to the SLVRMC via ambulance. The second victim, our team member, was brought down at approximately 1440 hours and was also taken to the local hospital via ambulance. The last victim was brought down at 1500 hours by our 4×4 specialist and accompanied by an EMS attendant. He was flown to Park View Hospital in Pueblo. Our mission was complete at 1601 with all souls safely off of the mountain.
June 9, 2013
On June 9, 2013, at 2219 hours AVSAR Leadership received a call from the Colorado State Patrol Dispatch regarding some overdue hikers on Mt. Blanca. According to the reporting party they had gone up on Friday and on Saturday one of the three male subjects was experiencing altitude sickness so they spent the night at 11,000 feet. The reporting party said she last spoke to them Sunday afternoon and that they were on their way down. AVSAR Leadership placed a call to the reporting party at 2225 hours so we could obtain more information as to their location and a vehicle description receiving no answer. Meanwhile Deputy Jeff Pearson had also placed a call to her receiving no answer. AVSAR Leadership received a call from Deputy Pearson at 2228 explaining that Corporal Lisa Benavidez had driven partway up the Como Road without locating the missing male subjects. At 2237 AVSAR made arrangements with two team members to take a jeep further up the Como Road to determine if their vehicle was still on the mountain. At 2252 hours Deputy Pearson called stating that he had finally reached the reporting party and that they had made it off the mountain. A second male subject was also experiencing altitude sickness and it had taken them longer to descend then they thought it would. AVSAR asked their team members to stand down at 2254 hours.
June 8-9, 2013
On June 8, 2013, at approximately 1124 hours, AVSAR Leadership was contacted by the Colorado State Patrol Dispatch regarding a downed glider, which later was determined to be a small plane, with three souls aboard. The crash took place near the Medano Lake area with two injured and a possible death and they were trying to determine if it was in Saguache or Alamosa County. At 1133 hours AVSAR Leadership spoke with our Liaison Deputy Jeff Pearson as to the exact location of the crash and whether it was accessible by four wheel drive. AVSAR contacted CSP and confirmed that the crash was in Saguache County and at that time they requested our assistance. The team was contacted at 1159 hours and told to go to the Base Camp that had been set up at the Sand Dunes Fire Cache just before the Sand Dunes Park entrance. Once our team arrived at approximately 1356 hours they were asked to provide security at the Medano Trailhead, as an assist to the National Park Service, until the FAA could arrive on scene for their investigation. The FFL helicopters were able to land near the crash site eliminating the need to carry the injured out. At 2126 hours it was determined that one member of the team remain overnight with the rescue rig as the Park Service needed someone at the trailhead Sunday morning. On June 9, 2013, at 0711 hours AVSAR Leadership contacted NPS Base Camp for an update. They requested two more team members to assist with the road control at the Medano Lake Trailhead. Another callout was made to the team at approximately 0721 hours requesting the need for more road control. At 0832 hours AVSAR Leadership received a call from Base Camp that they could use a few more people to help cover their lack of usual ranger coverage within the park at the lower parking area. AVSAR advised Base Camp at 0845 hours that two team members were on their way to the Sand Dunes Visitor Center for further instructions and then they headed to the lower parking lot to handle the overflow of traffic the park has during the summer. At 1842 hours the last two team members headed home having completed our assist to Saguache County/National Park Service.
May 27, 2013
On May 27, 2013, at approximately 2352 hours, AVSAR Leadership was contacted by Colorado State Patrol Dispatch regarding a possible lost hiker in the Zapata Falls area. He had been hiking with two other hikers and as they made their way down the trail he realized he was becoming winded and told them to go on ahead and he would meet them at the camp ground. They gave him the flashlight and quickly made their way down before dark. When he reached the first creek crossing he wasn’t sure where he was as the trail becomes vague and he couldn’t remember if he had crossed the creek on the hike up or not. He decided to make the call for help and stay put. Since his cell phone battery was getting low it was determined that he conserve it in case he wasn’t located immediately. He was not injured, had no medical issues, but was only wearing shorts and a light jacket. Deputy Jeff Pearson put our team on standby and then he along with the other male hiker headed up the trail at approximately 0015 hours. Approximately thirty minutes later at 0037 hours, Deputy Pearson contacted CSP Dispatch advising he had located the subject. He had built a campfire and was safe. AVSAR Leadership was contacted and in turn advised their team to stand down.
November 24, 2012
On November 24, 2012, at approx 1600, AVSAR members were dispatched to South Zapata TH for a party of two rappelling in Zapata Falls. The group, a brother and sister, had attempted to rappel into the canyon, planning to end up right at the base of the main falls. The brother had setup an anchor and rigged the rope on a tree above the canyon and the sister was the first to descend into the canyon. She was unable to reach the bottom of the canyon due to the length of the rope and became stranded. Details of what was done to re-rig the rope and get her to the bottom of the canyon are unclear, but she eventually reached a ledge in the bottom of the canyon, which involved a wade in the partially frozen creek. She was trapped on the ledge far above the main falls but below the open water and another small falls. Deputy Jeff Pearson and a local climber were first on site and did an initial assessment of the situation. Three other AVSAR members had arrived and approached the scene with a small amount of rope rescue gear after the assessment was made. A second rope had been fixed to a second anchor for the assessment and the AVSAR high-angle techs set a third anchor and rope. The subject was still attached to the first rope. One of the techs was lowered into the canyon with a helmet and warm, dry clothes for the subject. After the subject had a chance to warm up, the option of ascending the rope was discussed. Poor communication was an issue in the canyon; the rushing creek obscured the sound from above. The subject was confident in ascending the rope and was put on a belay on the third rope. The tech rigged a prusik system to the second rope and reviewed the procedure of ascending a rope. The tech rigged the same system on the first rope and ascended with the subject out of the canyon. The scene was cleared and SAR personnel descended with the subject(s) to the trailhead.
October 4, 2012
On October 4, 2012, at approximately 1652 hours, AVSAR Leadership was contacted by Deputy Royce Brubaker with the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office regarding a possible missing hiker in the Zapata Falls area. His nineteen year old girlfriend was the reporting party and believed that he was lost. She was concerned because he was not answering his cell phone and in the past had had seizures. Dressed in just jeans and a t-shirt and with only an hour before sunset it was determined by AVSAR that a callout was necessary. At 1706 hours we informed Deputy Brubaker that the team was being called out and to continue to try and reach the missing subject by phone. At 1716 hours our Liaison Officer Corporal Judy Jackson headed to the Zapata Falls area to assist in the search. At approximately 1758 hours contact was made with the missing male subject via cell phone that he was okay. He had continued to hike and was unaware of his girlfriend’s concern and had no idea that anyone thought he was lost. Corporal Jackson notified AVSAR Leadership and the AVSAR Team was told to stand down.
September 14, 2012
On September 14, 2012, at approximately 1911 hours, AVSAR Leadership was contacted by the Colorado State Patrol Dispatch regarding a mutual aid request from the Saguache County Search and Rescue. We were asked to contact Deputy Kayla Covington at the Baca Firehouse. Deputy Covington was contacted at 1916 hours and explained that they had received a call at approximately 1800 hours regarding a missing hiker in the Kit Carson Peak area. They currently had a one man hasty team en route to get more information from the reporting party. AVSAR Leadership sent a callout to all team members at 1922 hours advising that SCSAR was requesting assistance in the search for a missing hiker and that they wanted all team members to meet at the Baca Firehouse at 0700 hours Saturday morning for a briefing before heading up the mountain. Their contact would be Deputy Hartford. At 2011 hours AVSAR Leadership advised Deputy Covington that at least one member would be able to assist. At 0008 hours on September 15, 2012, CSP Dispatch called informing us that the hiker had made his way home and was safe and sound. Deputy Covington confirmed this with a call at 0009 hours and AVSAR Leadership advised the appropriate team members to stand down via text messaging and phone calls.
September 2, 2012
At approximately 1054 hours on September 2, 2012, Deputy Robert Ward contacted AVSAR Leadership, per Sheriff Stong, regarding a subject who was unable to descend from Ellingwood Point. AVSAR Leadership contacted CSP Dispatch to get his cell number and location. He appeared to be dehydrated, was hallucinating and had gotten separated from his group. At 1107 hours AVSAR Leadership contacted one of their medics and had him contact the subject to determine his medical status. The medic advised AVSAR Leadership to put the team on standby. At 1140 hours Deputy Ward was informed that Search and Rescue was being called out. Due to the possibility of the subject being in danger of falling we called in Flight For Life at 1201 hours to fly in members of the team. Life Guard 4 was currently en route from Canon City and would make a flyover of the Ellingwood area and see if they could locate a landing zone. None was available so they continued to where the AVSAR Base Camp would be set up at the Como Trailhead. At 1209 hours AVSAR Leadership made contact via cell phone with the subject’s friends. They believed there was no way to climb down to him and were afraid of running out of water for themselves as well. The four young men in this group were from China and we were dealing with a slight language barrier. At 1249 hours FFL was notified that Sheriff Stong had authorized the use of FFL to bring in the search team and they were updated on the subject’s condition. He continued to show signs of dehydration and was very frightened. He did have a lifeline with one of the AVSAR team members via cell phone that continued to try and keep him calm. At 1328 hours his three friends stated they tried to reach the subject but could not. At 1429 hours CSP Dispatch notified AVSAR Leadership that another hiker had been able to climb to the subject’s location, had given him water and food and were currently helping him work out the cramps in his legs. They patched this call through to AVSAR Leadership who gathered the information and forwarded it to the ground crew and FFL. The hikers contacted AVSAR again at 1454 hours and informed us they were able to get the subject moving and were heading down to meet up with the AVSAR Team taking the draw just below Ellingwood above the lake. At 1552 hours an AVSAR team member met up with the subject and his hiking group. Shortly after the remaining two AVSAR members joined this group and started their descent towards the lake. They contacted the team members ascending in four wheel drive and the two groups met at the lake and then started their trip down the Como Road. At 1851 hours the ground crew contacted AVSAR Leadership stating they had the subject aboard and were heading down from Lake Como. Team members advised AVSAR Leadership and CSP Dispatch that they had arrived at Base Camp safely and were clear of the mission at 2140 hours.
August 30, 2012
On August 30, 2012, at approximately 1329 hours, AVSAR Leadership was contacted by Sgt Jimmy McCloskey who had just received a call from CSP Dispatch regarding a subject that had fallen in the Little Bear area. AVSAR Leadership made direct contact with the subject via cell phone. He had numerous injuries including an injured ankle, broken ribs and lacerations. The subject, his wife and two friends were continuing down the mountain and had intentions of meeting up with AVSAR at Lake Como. The call out was made and while the team was gathering up their equipment AVSAR Leadership made contact with the subject again. They had reached the saddle and he was having difficulty coming down. After speaking with his wife and going over the options it was determined the subject needed to be flown out and should not remain on the mountain overnight. The subject is an ER Doctor and was alert enough to know how serious his injuries were. At 1413 hours FFL was contacted and made aware of the incident. They were given the subject’s cell phone number so they could make direct contact with him and assess the situation. FFL contacted AVSAR letting us know that the injured party was going to try to continue walking down to Lake Como. AVSAR Leadership contacted CSP Dispatch at 1542 to advise them that an ambulance would not be needed and that our current plan was to have the subject taken off the mountain by FFL. Both FFL and AVSAR lost cell phone contact with the subject until AVSAR received a text message from the subject’s wife at 1635 hours advising that they had reached Lake Como, the subject was in stable condition and they were requesting a definite lift out from FFL and that he could not make it out via a vehicle. FFL was updated and at 1649 hours a hasty team headed up the Como Trail. AVSAR remained in contact with the subject via text messaging and relayed the information to FFL as needed. At 1942 hours AVSAR reached Lake Como. FFL advised they were en route at 2002 hours. As the hasty team assisted with medical treatment it was determined that due to the subject’s labored breathing he had a possible collapsed lung. FFL arrived on scene at 2058 hours after having to make a detour around some inclement weather and departed at approximately 2121 hours. CSP Dispatch was advised the subject was safely off of the mountain and the AVSAR Team headed back down to base camp. AVSAR Leadership was contacted by the subject’s wife the following day with an update on his condition and to show their appreciation for our assistance. She shared with us how damaged his helmet was and that they always wear their helmets when climbing. A note to all that helmets can save lives!
July 17, 2012
On July 17, 2012, at approximately 1636 hours, AVSAR Leadership was contacted by the Alamosa Sheriff’s Office and advised we were being put on standby. They had a report of a possible lost hiker at Zapata Falls. This hiker was deaf and her service dog had been located on the trail without her. The team was then put on standby. At 1724 hours Deputy Jeff Pearson called to give a briefing and while on the phone with AVSAR Leadership the reporting parties arrived at the parking area and shared the information they had. According to the reporting party they had encountered the deaf woman approximately thirty years of age, along with her service dog, on their way up to the lake. Several hours later they reached the lake and after fifteen minutes headed back down the trail. They located the dog by himself on the trail and tried to get it to come with them. The dog refused to leave the area so they continued down the trail. It was decided that since the service dog would not leave that its owner was probably nearby and possibly hurt. The team was then advised to go forward with the mission. At approximately 1748 hours AVSAR Leadership was contacted by Deputy Pearson and told to stand down. The woman had been located at the campground. Apparently the dog was the one who was missing. Both are safe now.
July 10, 2012
On July 10, 2012, at approximately 1253 hours, AVSAR Leadership was contacted by CSP Dispatch with a request from Sgt Jimmy McCloskey with the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office to callout the Alamosa Volunteer Search and Rescue to assist in a search for a lost hiker near Zapata Falls. She was twenty-five and had been hiking with two males, all heading to the lake. The two males waited for her near the cabin and when she did not arrive they headed back down and could not locate her. Five members of our team headed towards the area and approximately six more were due to arrive in two more hours. Chris Lavery put the Red Cross on standby. A Forest Service Officer had already started up the trail and encountered a couple of hikers who claimed to have seen a woman matching her description so he proceeded up the trail. At approximately 1510 hours he radioed CSP Dispatch that the missing female subject had been located and was uninjured.
June 7, 2012
On June 7, 2012, at approximately 2100 hours, CSP Dispatch contacted AVSAR Leadership with a request from Deputy Jeff Pearson to put the team on standby. He had received word that two males, twenty years of age, had not returned from their hike to Zapata Falls. A text message was sent out and the AVSAR Team was put on standby. Deputy Pearson was informed and then waited for further information. At 2140 CSP Dispatch again contacted AVSAR Leadership informing them that the two males had shown up at their campsite and were safe. Another text was sent out alerting the team to stand down.
March 30, 2012
On March 30, 2012, at 0854 hours, AVSAR Leadership was contacted by CSP Dispatch with a request from Deputy Jeff Pearson to assist in a search for a missing male who had been involved in a traffic accident near Snyder’s Smokehouse at County Road 3 S and the 104 S. The subject was believed to be suicidal and was no longer with his vehicle. A few minutes later CSP Dispatch called to tell us to stand down as the male subject had been located at a local hotel by his employer.
March 17, 2012
On March 17, 2012, at 0046 hours, AVSAR Leadership was contacted by CSP Dispatch with a request from the New Mexico State Police via COSAR to assist in a search for a possible missing male. Deputy Jeff Pearson was contacted to verify whether or not our team was covered by workmen’s comp if we assisted on a search in another state. The Sheriff was contacted and after verifying that the team could assist in a search anywhere AVSAR Dispatch contacted most of the team members. The missing subject was traveling from Texas to Penrose, Colorado and had last made contact in Raton, New Mexico on March 8, 2012. On March 13, 2012, his vehicle was located in the Carson National Forest approximately twenty miles from the town of Costilla, New Mexico. Tracks had been found and the New Mexico State Police began a search. Several of our members were going to join the search Saturday afternoon/Sunday morning, but at 1513 hours AVSAR Dispatch was contacted and informed that the search was being called off due to inclement weather moving into the area. The search aircraft was unable to fly low enough to get a good visual of the ground due to the high winds and the area was thick with trees and brush making the ground search very difficult. A text was sent out to the necessary members that the search was being called off.
February 26, 2012
At 1245 hours, Sgt. Jimmy McCloskey contacted our AVSAR Dispatch in a request to help search a field for a rifle that was placed there after a burglary. The suspect had turned himself in and the Sgt was afraid that a child playing in the field might come across the gun. Eight members of the AVSAR team and two members of the Sheriff’s Posse responded to the Sheriff’s Office for briefing. They searched an area in and around the neighborhood of Hanniver Lane in East Alamosa. Unable to locate the stolen rifle, the search was called off at approximately 1600 hours. They did however find a few items from other burglaries that helped the deputies in their investigations of the unsolved burglaries. This was our second mission in two weeks that took place in an urban setting showing the versatility of our rescue team. Thanks to all who assisted.
Febuary 11, 2012
At 1024 hours, we received a call from the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office with a request to assist the Alamosa Police Department in a search for a possible missing woman. She was not in the best of health and evidence in her house showed she had been sick the previous night. She had also received death threats in regards to a relative’s recent murder trial and they were concerned that she may have succumbed to foul play or wandered outside to the adjacent field behind her house. Incident Command was set up at Ross and 17th Street. Shortly after the callout was made to the AVSAR Team, we received word that a text message was received from her phone. It was not determined that she had sent the message and The Police Department was not getting cooperation from AT&T on the cell records so they went forward with a grid search. At 1139 hours one of their detectives confirmed they had spoken with the missing women and that she was okay. She had left town for her own safety. We had twelve members respond and received a lot of gratitude from the Police Department for helping them out. A number of firefighters responded as well and all in all we had enough personnel for an extended search if one had been necessary. Thanks to all who participated.
December 31, 2010
At 1432 hours, AVSAR leadership was contacted regarding a missing 11 year old female whose last known point was with her famly in the Zapata Falls area. AVSAR leadership and personnel went on standby while deputies conducted an initial investigation to conduct a hasty search and rule-out abduction. At 1515 hours, AVSAR leadership began a call-out of all available AVSAR personnel to conduct a search of the Zapata Falls area for the missing subject. At 1530 hours, AVSAR leadership cancelled the call-out as ASO deputies located the subject who was cold but otherwise uninjured.
September 19, 2010
At approximately 0800 hours, Saguache County SAR requested AVSAR assistance with a missing hiker operation on Kit Carson Peak. Five AVSAR techs responded to the operation’s command post, the Baca Firehouse just south of Crestone, Colorado. While the five AVSAR techs remained at the CP on standby awaiting deployment, a Saguache SAR hasty team located the subject, deceased. Evidence indicated the subject had gotten off route the day before and fallen to his death. At this time, the five AVSAR techs were not needed, so they were released.
August 7, 2010
At approximately 11:05 hours, CSP regional 911 dispatch contacted AVSAR leadership regarding an injured hiker. The hiker was reported to be a 27 year old female, whose hiking partner called 911 to report the subject had dislocated her shoulder. They had summitted Ellingwood Point and were traversing to Blanca Peak when the dislocation occurred. AVSAR leadership contacted the reporting party by cell phone and was advised that the subject was also an epileptic and had had recent seizures. AVSAR leadership communicated to the reporting party how to provide initial treatment, and began a call-out / response. During the response, AVSAR leadership requested Flight For Life be put on standby. When all personnel had responded to the Lake Como Road Trailhead, FFL began “Lift Ticketing” SAR techs as close to the subject as possible (Blue Lake). Five SAR techs were inserted via FFL, another nine techs inserted via modified 4x4s. One 4×4 could not pass the Jaws One obstacle, so four techs began hiking to the subject from there. The other 4×4 broke down near Jaws Two, so three techs began hiking to the subject from that point. As the 4×4 inserted techs ascended, one of the techs inserted via FFL began to suffer symptoms of AMS and began descending. As the 4×4 inserted techs intercepted the descending tech, they took equipment from him necessary for the rescue, and one of the 4×4 inserted techs assisted the AMS suffering tech while he descended. SAR techs (comprised of both personnel from AVSAR and Rio Grande County SAR) located the subject on the saddle between Ellingwood Point and Blanca Peak. Bystanders that had been hiking in the area (including a nurse and Army medic) had assisted the subject until SAR’s arrival. After locating the subject (approximately late afternoon), SAR techs began treating her for the cold conditions; the subject was treated for a dislocated shoulder. SAR techs packaged the subject for litter evacuation. As the subject was packaged, a large thunderstorm rolled into the area and it began hailing and lightning. During the storm, SAR techs finished transporting necessary technical equipment to the subject’s location enduring dangerous, cold, exposed storm conditions including the risk of lightning strikes. After necessary equipment was on scene, SAR techs did a low-angle technical lowering of the subject back to the trail where SAR personnel could carry her to a safer bivouac. Upon reaching Crater Lake, SAR personnel and the subject bivouacked. AVSAR requested that the Sheriff request National Guard assistance; the National Guard declined the request. The subject and SAR techs spent the night at the Crater Lake bivouac, dealing with stormy, cold conditions, and a painful dislocation which could not be treated with analgesics. At first light, SAR techs and bystanders continued the litter evacuation to Blue Lake. Initially upon reaching Blue Lake, FFL could not land and intercept the SAR team and subject because of weather conditions, but eventually at 0800 hours, the weather lightened and FFL was able to land at Blue Lake and take over subject treatment and evacuation. The subject was airlifted directly to Pueblo and treated for her injuries.
August 5, 2010
At 1518 hours, Costilla County Search And Rescue called AVSAR leadership to request assistance with a missing hiker on Mt. Lindsey. AVSAR leadership consulted with Costilla County SAR leadership over the phone, and AVSAR supported CCSAR with operations planning. CCSAR did not request personnel or resource support at that time. The outcome of this operation was not reported to any AVSAR personnel.
June 20, 2010
At 1619 hours, the Alamosa Sheriff’s Office contacted AVSAR leadership regarding an injured hiker on Ellingwood Point. The injured subject was a 25 year old female, who was hiking with a partner (a 24 year old female). They had summitted Ellingwood Point and were descending to the saddle between Ellingwood and Blanca, when the subject lost her balance and fell, tumbling approximately 30-50 feet over talus and snow. The approximate time that the fall occurred was 1200. The subject’s injuries included lacerations to her lower left leg, as well as two sprained ankles, and bruising to her lower extremities and arms. The subject’s partner administered first aid, and with the support of three bystanders, the subject and her partner began a self-rescue. As they passed Crater Lake above “the waterfall”, the subject became ataxic and light-headed. The subject’s partner and one of the bystanders became worried about the subject’s blood loss, her overall state, and the pace of their descent, so the subject’s partner called 911 and requested a rescue. At 1830, from a command post at the Lake Como trailhead, AVSAR leadership deployed a hasty team including a high-angle medic, a low angle medic, and a 4×4 specialist tech to the subject’s location. At approximately 1845, a second team was deployed including five additional AVSAR techs (including a 4×4 specialist, high-angle techs and medics). At approximately 2025, the first team of three located the subject and her hiking partner next to Blue Lake at the base of “the waterfall”. The medics stabilized the subject and packaged her for ground transport back to the command post. At approximately 2045 the second team of five techs arrived at the subject’s location. Approximately 2130, both teams began transport back to the command post. Approximately 0000, June 21, 2010, both teams arrived at the command post, and the subject was transported to the San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center.
June 15, 2010
At approximately 1300, June 15, 2010, AVSAR leadership was contacted regarding a fallen climber. The fallen climber’s partner had witnessed the fall, said to have occurred at approximately 0900. The subject’s partner reported the subject and he had been climbing the standard Hourglass route. Because the Hourglass was filled with ice, they had elected to climb the rock just to the left of the ice. At one point, the subject’s handhold and/or foothold broke free from the face, and the subject pitched backward onto the 45 degree angle ice. The subject began a very rapid descent down the ice, and rounded a corner lower, disappearing from the subject’s partner’s sight. The subject’s partner descended and found the subject several hundred feet below and assessed him for injuries. The subject was alive, but he was unresponsive and had signs of very severe trauma. The subject’s partner stayed with him for several minutes, and he signaled a SPOT device 911 signal. Fearing that the signal had not been received, the subject’s partner began descending to ensure rescuers could be dispatched. The 911 SPOT message was never received, so 911 wasn’t notified until the subject’s partner descended to their car to summon responders at approximately 1300. AVSAR requested assistance from Flight For Life and the military. Both FFL and Buckley AFB dispatched helicopter crews. FFL dispatched Life Guard 4 from Pueblo that landed at the command post and remained on standby. Buckley dispatched a Chinook helicopter that lifted a team of five technical SAR medics as close to the incident as possible at approximately 1730. During insertion, the helicopter was attempting to deploy the five techs when the rear rotor blade made contact with the mountain. In approximately 15 seconds, the aircraft descended approximately 1500′ to crash land in a small marshy meadow. Although the helicopter’s rear rotors had severe damage, it’s landing gear had been knocked off, and its fuselage had minor buckling, there were no serious injuries to any of the Army crew or AVSAR crew. After a 30 minute assessment, the five AVSAR techs began ascending to the location of the subject. At approximately 1900 two Blackhawk helicopters flew into the area of the Chinook crash, and rescued the Army Chinook crew. The first AVSAR tech reached the subject at approximately 2030. The subject was located at approximately 13,060′ elevation in a rock band beneath the snow fields under the Hourglass Couloir. The subject was deceased. The last of the five AVSAR techs arrived at the subject’s location at approximately 2100. Incident Command called COSAR for assistance in recovering the subject in the morning when light would significantly decrease risk to SAR personnel. Three of the AVSAR techs at the subject’s location began descending to the command post around 2100. Two techs secured the subject overnight. During the night, the team of three safely arrived at Lake Como at approximately 0000 on June 16, 2010. From there they were transported in modified 4x4s to the command post. At 0600, there was enough light to process the scene, so the remaining two AVSAR techs processed the scene and packaged the subject for transportation. As a 20+ group of multi-organizational SAR teams were shuttled by modified 4x4s and hiking to Lake Como (this group was comprised of several smaller teams from Rio Grande, Custer, Gunnison, and El Paso counties), the two AVSAR techs descended. The two AVSAR techs got back to Lake Como at approximately 0930. Around 1200, the large group of multi-agency SAR high angle techs began the technical lowering of the subject to an LZ near the Chinook crash site. At 1700 the 20+ team of SAR techs completed the lowering of the subject into the Little Bear Lake Gorge, and the subject and SAR members were flown out by Blackhawk helicopters to the CP. The Army had a security team at the location of the Chinook. Over several days the Army will dismantle the Chinook, and it will be flown out in pieces. For pictures of the helicopter crash and/or pictures from the command post please see this website’s picture page or go to AVSAR’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Alamosa-Volunteer-Search-And-Rescue/110137744997?ref=ts
June 3, 2010
At 1307 hours, the Alamosa Sheriff called AVSAR leadership and requested the SAR team be called-out to assist in searching for a missing 4 year old female. As the team was being dispatched, law enforcement located the missing girl, and the call-out was cancelled.
April 24, 2010
At 2145 hours, Costilla County SAR leadership called AVSAR leadership regarding two lost hikers. The hikers had signed in to climb Culebra Peak previously, but they had gone beyond their expected return time and had not yet signed out. A CCSAR hasty team had ascertained that their vehicle was still parked at the trailhead. At 2235 hours, while both teams’ leadership was discussing and planning a full call-out for the morning at first light, a CCSAR hasty team, previously dispatched by CCSAR leadership, made contact with the hikers and called for a stand-down.
April 16, 2010
At 1734 hours, CSP dispatch notified AVSAR leadership of a request from the ASO that a 31 y.o. mentally impaired male had wandered away from a residence in Alamosa County and was requesting the assistance of AVSAR for a search mission. While AVSAR leadership was planning and beginning the call-out, an ASO deputy called to stand down the call-out because the individual had been located.February 16, 2010On February 15, 2010 at 1420 hours, CSP Dispatch contacted AVSAR leadership regarding an abandoned car. It had been located on the Lake Como Road that accesses the Blanca Massif 2.5 miles from the turn-off of Highway 150. A check on the license plates showed the owner of the vehicle, a 31 year old male, from Albuquerque, New Mexico, was not at the registered home, and neighbors had last seen him on the 11th of February. This, evidence observed at the vehicle, and other background information were taken into account in profiling the presumed missing owner. ASO personnel and AVSAR leadership decided to call-out available AVSAR personnel for an 0800 hours rally at the trailhead near the abandoned vehicle. By 0800 hours, 17 AVSAR personnel had responded to the Command Post. A hasty team of three AVSAR technicians were deployed to the snowline on the road above the subject’s LKP (his vehicle) to search for tracks indicating the subject’s last direction of travel. No tracks were observed. The hasty team returned to the LKP and began a thorough search of the area immediately around the subject’s vehicle. At this time, 13 additional AVSAR personnel arrived at the LKP to begin a line search of the area surrounding the subject’s vehicle. Using line tactics, the searchers covered a radius of several hundred square yards around the vehicle. Upon returning to the vehicle, AVSAR leadership was contacted by an ASO deputy who reported that the subject had been lost the day before and for a time was unable to locate his camp, but he had called his girlfriend the previous evening to let her know he was behind schedule, okay, and would be out to his vehicle by the afternoon of the next day. AVSAR personnel were briefed regarding the subject’s communication and status, and they were debriefed and released at approximately 1200 hours. At approximately 1300 hours, three remaining AVSAR personnel observed the subject return to his vehicle. Two AVSAR personnel made contact with the subject and learned that he had been in the area for several days climbing Mt. Blanca. The subject reported he had summitted the peak and was behind schedule; otherwise, he was healthy.
December 2, 2009
On Wednesday, December 2, 2009 at 1941 hours, AVSAR leadership received a call from Colorado State Patrol Dispatch regarding a missing person and a request to put the team on standby. Shortly after this, AVSAR leadership was contacted by Great Sand Dunes National Park leadership. The missing person was a 27 year old female from Colorado Springs. National Park Service leadership and AVSAR leadership agreed that the AVSAR team would rally at the Visitor’s Center at 0630 hours the next morning Thursday, December 3, 2009. Ten AVSAR techs arrived at the visitor center at 0630 hours and were briefed by the National Park Service and AVSAR leadership regarding the missing person and operations assignments. All searchers left the Visitor’s Center at approximately 0730 hours except one AVSAR tech who stayed at the Visitor’s Center. At approximately 0745 hours, searchers met at the subject’s last known point (LKP): the main dunes parking lot. The temperature was between 2 and 3 degrees Fahrenheit, and there was a sustained westerly wind of approximately 10 mph. At approximately 0825 hours, a searcher located the deceased subject. The body was located approximately 200 yards southwest from the main dunes parking lot, in the middle of the dry Medano Creek flats. Approximately 0845 hours, an Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office Investigator arrived on scene. The scene was finished being processed approximately 0930 hours. AVSAR, National Park Service, Coroner’s Office and Alamosa Sheriff’s Office personnel conducted a search of the area around the LKP and body for any potential additional evidence. No additional evidence was located. AVSAR personnel were debriefed and released approximately 1130 hours.
October 3, 2009
On Saturday, October 3, 2009, at 2054 hours, Alamosa Volunteer Search And Rescue leadership was contacted by Saguache County Search And Rescue leadership requesting assistance. Earlier that day, between 1300-1400 hours, a 51 year old male fell while descending the standard route of Challenger Point and Kit Carson Peaks. The subject had dragged himself for approximately four hours before cell phone service became available. The subject called a friend who then called 911. The subject reported that when he fell he did not lose consciousness, but that he had “shattered his knee… feel woozy… light-headed.” By description of his location, Saguache SAR leadership estimated his position to be on the eastern slope of Challenger Point above Willow Lake. With low temperatures in the upper teens forecasted for elevations above tree line, at approximately 2000-2100 hours, Saguache SAR leadership deployed a two man hasty team, “Hasty Team One”, consisting of a high-angle SAR tech and a SAR EMT to locate the subject and stabilize his condition. Beginning at 2115 hours, AVSAR leadership requested a call-out of all members who were Flight For Life “Lift Ticket” certified or who had hiked the standard route of Challenger Point. All these members were requested to rally at the command post, the Baca Grande Firehouse, in Crestone at 0545 hours the next morning. The San Luis Valley American Red Cross was notified at approximately 2300 hours. On Sunday, October 4, 2009, at 0600 hours, AVSAR, the Red Cross, and Saguache SAR personnel rallied at the command post and were briefed by Saguache SAR leadership regarding the situation. Hasty Team One had reached the subject approximately 0130-0200 hours, and they had medically stabilized the subject as well as treated for him for hypothermia. The subject’s location was verified to be approximately a quarter mile above the headwall cliffs above Willow Lake. At 0700 hours, a five person team made-up of AVSAR personnel, “Search Team Two”, deployed from the command post to reach the subject and Hasty Team One via the standard Willow Lake trail. At 0800, one of the SAR techs on Search Team Two experienced a knee problem resulting from a mild hyper-extension, and he returned to the command post. At approximately 1030 hours, a four person team comprised of high-angle personnel from Custer County Search And Rescue arrived at the command post. Approximately 1100 hours, the Forest Service notified SAR leadership that five horses were available for subject evacuation from below Willow Lake, in case the subject could not be evacuated via helicopter. Also at 1100 hours, a military Blackhawk helicopter from Eagle, Colorado arrived at the command post to support the insertion of additional SAR techs for litter evacuation as well as to potentially evacuate the subject. At approximately 1110 hours, the four person SAR team from Custer County, designated “Search Team Four”, boarded the helicopter and began flying to a landing zone (L.Z.) near the subject above Willow Lake. At approximately 1130 hours, Search Team Two reached the location of the subject and Hasty Team One. All personnel on scene began packaging the subject for evacuation. On scene, all SAR personnel worked together to transport the subject via litter to the nearest L.Z. where the Blackhawk waited. At approximately 1230 hours, the Blackhawk returned to the command post L.Z. with all deployed field personnel and the subject. The subject was transferred to a Baca Grande Fire Department ambulance and personnel until Flight For Life’s Life Guard Four arrived at approximately 1300 hours from St. Mary Corwin, Pueblo. Approximately 1330 hours, the subject began transport to St. Mary Corwin’s E.R. via Life Guard Four. The subject is expected to fully recover.
September 10, 2009
At 1323 hours, AVSAR leadership received a call from regional 911 emergency dispatch about an injured party on Little Bear Peak. A climber had called 911 to report that his hiking partner, a 54 year old male from Woodland Park, had fallen approximately 75 feet on steep talus near the summit of Little Bear Peak approximately 1300 hours. He reported that his friend was unconscious, had lost a lot of blood, and was still breathing. AVSAR leadership requested dispatch to put Flight For Life on standby. AVSAR leadership dispatched all members to respond to the Lake Como Trailhead. AVSAR leadership contacted the reporting party via cell phone and instructed the party in basic life support and how to care for the patient until first responders would arrive. The party’s location was verified to be the area near the base of the Hourglass Couloir. At 1430 hours, AVSAR responders began arriving at the Lake Como Trailhead which would serve as the command post. At 1522 hours, AVSAR contacted Flight For Life requesting Life Guard Four be dispatched to the command post for “Lift Ticket” insertion of wilderness medical responders. At approximately 1550 hours, Life Guard Four arrived at the command post. At approximately 1610 hours, an AVSAR Wilderness First Responder (WFR) and AVSAR Wilderness First Aid (WFA) tech were flown to a landing zone near Lake Como. Approximately 1630 hours an AVSAR WFR and high-angle tech were flown to the LZ. At 1650 hours, as a last two-person hasty team, an AVSAR WFR and tech were flown to the LZ. From the LZ, all three teams ascended Little Bear Peak’s standard route via the West Ridge’s access couloir near Lake Como. At 1700 hours, nine AVSAR high-angle and low-angle rescue techs began ascending the Lake Como four-wheel drive access road in modified four-wheel drive vehicles and an ATV from the command post. At approximately 1800 hours, the first medical responders arrived at the subject’s location: latitude 37 degrees 33.876 minutes west and longitude 105 degrees 30.140 minutes north at approximately 12,830 feet elevation. The subject’s climbing partner witnessed the fall and described the accident to the first responders. Rescuers stabilized the subject’s spine and treated him for multiple head lacerations, chest, hand, arm, and shoulder injuries. Rescuers also treated the patient for volume shock and mild hypothermia. At approximately 2030 hours, six AVSAR techs, who had transported to Lake Como via modified four-wheel drives and then climbed and traversed the West Ridge, arrived on scene to assist in litter transport. Shortly after arrival, all personnel on scene, including the subject’s hiking partner and 12 AVSAR personnel began transporting the subject via Stokes litter back to the LZ. During the 10+ hour litter transport, AVSAR personnel performed countless litter belays while traversing hazardous high-angle obstacles including three, four hundred foot technical litter lowerings. At 0600, Friday, September 11, 2009, an AVSAR tech contacted Flight For Life and requested an 0700 hours transport from the LZ located near Lake Como. At 0720 hours, Life Guard Four landed at the LZ and took over patient care from AVSAR WFR’s. At 0730 hours, Life Guard Four began transport to Pueblo. At approximately 0800 hours, AVSAR personnel and the subject’s hiking partner began descending the Lake Como four-wheel drive road via the three modified four-wheel drive vehicles and an ATV. At approximately 1000 hours, all vehicles and personnel had returned to the command post. All personnel were de-briefed and released approximately 1030 hours. In Pueblo, the subject was treated for head lacerations, a head contusion, a subdural hematoma, multiple fractures in both hands, bleeding behind one eye, a dislocated shoulder, broken ribs, and multiple trunk contusions. After emergency treatment the subject was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit.
July 11, 2009
At 1101 hours, CSP dispatch notified AVSAR of a missing 10 year old boy in the area of the Zapata Falls trail. He was last seen walking with his parents between the Zapata Falls parking lot and Zapata Falls. He was reported to have gone missing at approximately 1000 hours. AVSAR dispatched all available members to respond to the area to begin a low angle missing person search. At 1131 hours, CSP dispatch notified AVSAR that the boy hand been located by Alamosa County Sheriff’s Deputies west of the parking lot on the Zapata Falls trailhead access road.
March 27, 2009
During blizzard conditions on Friday, March 27, 2009, at 0124 hours, CSP dispatch requested AVSAR for a missing person search. The missing person was believed to be in the area of Highway 17 between Mosca and Hooper, near an abandoned vehicle that had slid off the highway. At 0137 hours, CSP notified AVSAR that the motorist had been located and cancelled the search request.
December 21, 2008
At 0350 CSP dispatch notified AVSAR leadership of an aircraft crash in extreme eastern Costilla County on the eastern slopes of Vermejo Peak at approximately 12,000 feet elevation. It had dropped off radar just east of the peak westbound for Santa Fe the night before at approximately 1900 hours. Two souls were on board the Canadian twin engine Beech aircraft. AVSAR contacted COSAR and the Costilla County Sheriff’s Incident Commander for mission coordination and assignment. Seven AVSAR members responded to Ft. Garland as a hasty team for potential quick insertion into the Culebra Massif from the west, in case the crash was located west of Vermejo Peak. El Paso County SAR and Custer County SAR personnel responded to Walsenburg for potential deployment on the eastern slopes of the Culebra Massif. Approximately 1200 the aircraft crash site was spotted near its last known location by an A.F. Blackhawk helicopter crew including Air Fore Sp. Forces, but the crew could not deploy to the ground because of extreme winds. The crew described the site as a high energy impact debris field with no chances of survivability. Eastern slope ground SAR teams attempted to try and access the site by ground. At this time, AVSAR personel were released from standby (approximately 1230). For the remainder of the day, eastern slope SAR teams made their way to the area of the crash site, but because of extreme weather conditions, high avalanche risk, and continued storms forecasted, they had to abandon the effort two miles short of the site. Recovery and scene investigation has been postponed until conditions in the area become safer for responders, most likely in late spring or early summer.
November 17, 2008
At approximately 1310 on November 17, 2008, AVSAR personnel were dispatched to assist Conejos County SAR for a search for an overdue / missing hunter. At approximately 1700, while the AVSAR team was en route, they were notified that the hunter had been found.
September 4, 2008
At 2000, the Alamosa Sheriff’s Office (ASO) was notified of a missing hiker’s GPS coordinates. The ASO dispatched AVSAR to respond to the GPS location, the north side of the West Ridge between the access saddle above Lake Como and the traverse to the base of the Hourglass Couloir. The subject was identified to be a 47 y.o. male. A hasty team of six AVSAR high-angle / medical technicians left the command post at approximately 2200. The team transported to Lake Como via modified 4x4s, and they began searching the West Ridge’s north slopes at approximately 0000, September 5. Because of steep terrain, all AVSAR GPS units lost sight of satellites and became inoperable. AVSAR personnel switched to using standard “line” search tactics. At approximately 0300, the primary hasty team radioed the command post to transport a second SAR team for relief / support at first light. At 0800, a second team of five AVSAR techs arrived at the vehicle staging point above Lake Como. At 0830, three AVSAR technicians from the initial hasty team found the deceased subject at approximately 12,400 feet elevation on the north slopes of the West Ridge. AVSAR executed a technical roped lowering (40 degree slope) to the vehicle staging area. The vehicles began descending to the command post at approximately 1200 September 5. At approximately 1400, the vehicles arrived at the trailhead and met with ASO and Coroner’s officials. AVSAR team members were debriefed and released at approximately 1500.
August 30, 2008
At 0906, the Alamosa Sheriff’s Office dispatched AVSAR to respond to a 70 y.o. male subject with injuries involved in an ATV roll-over accident. The accident was reported to be in the Lake Como area. AVSAR team members responded to the command post at the trailhead, were briefed, given assignments, and were about to deploy when the subject was driven out on a citizen’s ATV. The subject was taken to the San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center at approximately 1115. An AVSAR 4×4 technician drove the Lake Como Road to intercept the subject’s family who had been camped near “Jaws Two” and evacuate them to the trailhead. The AVSAR tech. intercepted the family below “Jaws One”, and successfully evacuated them to the trailhead at approximately 1200.
July 22, 2008
At 2000 on July 22, AVSAR was dispatched to respond to a 26 y.o. male who had fallen 30+ feet while descending Ellingwood Point at approximately 1500. The subject and his hiking buddy attempted to self-rescue, but as sunset approached, they called 911. Eleven AVSAR members were assembled at the trailhead /command post by 2130, and the subject was located 0030 hours at 12,600′ elevation alongside Crater Lake. The subject was stabilized and began transport (litter carry) at 0130. He was evacuated by litter, over ground by personnel approximately a mile to Blue Lake where he descended the remaining 5+ miles by modified 4×4. At 0630, he was transported by ambulance from the trailhead to the San Luis Valley Medical Center and was admitted to the I.C.U.
June 24, 2008
At 0800 June 24, 2008, the Alamosa Sheriff’s Office dispatched an AVSAR team comprised of a search dog, the dog’s handler, and a team of four high-angle SAR techs to the site of January’s avalanche that claimed the life of a 20 y.o. female. From a staging area / command post located at the Lake Como road trailhead, the SAR team was shuttled in by helicopter. At approximately 0900 personnel had located the body of the subject. The body was located along the slopes just west of those underneath the Hourglass Couloir. The SAR team processed the site and transported the body to the field landing zone above Little Bear Lake, and the subject was flown to the command post and transferred to the custody of the Alamosa Coroner’s Office at approximately 1230. The dog and handler were also transported via helicopter to the command post around 1300. Because of high winds the helicopter was grounded and the four AVSAR techs descended via ground to the intersection of 24th St. and Finton Ave (4×4 access only). They were picked-up by ASO personnel and transported back to the command post at 1830.
June 11, 2008
The Alamosa Sheriff’s Office deployed an AVSAR high angle team to attempt the recovery of the body of a 20 y.o. female who was killed in an avalanche that occurred on January 10th in the Little Bear Lake basin. At 0900, an AVSAR high-angle tech flew with FFL personnel via helicopter from Pueblo with the objective of securing a landing site near the avalanche site. The plan was then to have a search dog team and three high-angle SAR techs be shuttled in via helicopter. Extremely high winds forced the FFL pilot and all personnel to abort the mission.
June 10, 2008
At approximately 1700, June 10, 2008, AVSAR received a non-emergency stranded vehicle call. The subject reported she had a flat tire and her spare was flat too. Her location was on the 4×4 boundary roads between Alamosa and Costilla Counties, just west of the intersection of 24th St. and Finton Ave. Because of the non-emergency nature of the call, AVSAR referred the subject to a local garage recovery service.
June 10, 2008
At 0230, June 10, 2008, the Alamosa Sheriff’s Office dispatched AVSAR personnel to respond to Sand Dunes National Park to assist with a search for a missing hiker. The subject was a 19 y.o. male. The day before he was hiking with his family on the Mosca Pass Trail and had last been seen at 1700. AVSAR personnel responded to the command post at the park’s visitor’s center by 0500. A search dog team responded at 0620 and was on the trail conducting a hasty search at 0650. At 0908 the dog team reported they had a set of tracks they believed to be the subject’s. The dog team reported the tracks disappeared on the road at the top of the pass. At 1100 hours the Huerfano Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Forest Service Fire Fighting personnel, and AVSAR personnel transported via vehicle to the top of Mosca Pass to begin the containment of the roads east of the pass. At 1335, Incident Command was notified that the subject was in Westcliffe, Colorado and had hitch hiked there over the course of the day. The subject was transported back to the command post via U.S. Forest Service Fire Fighting personnel and their vehicle.
On an unspecified day in May, Alamosa Sheriff’s Office received a non-emergency stranded vehicle call. The driver said he had high-centered his jeep at the “Jaws I” obstacle on Lake Como Road. The ASO dispatched deputies and put AVSAR on stand-by. After deputies made contact with the subject, they assessed the situation to be non-emergency. Because the call was non-emergency related, AVSAR referred the subject to a local garage recovery service.
May 3, 2008
Sagauche County Sheriff’s Department requested assistance with a search for a missing individual. After responding to the command post, AVSAR and several southern Colorado SAR groups were briefed that the search was for a 51 y.o. despondent male. He had gone missing in November of 2007. The command post was located at his last known point– where his vehicle had been abandoned. After several cadaver dog teams had scoured the area and 75+ SAR personnel had done line searches of the four square miles around the L.K.P., not a trace of evidence of direction of travel or the body were found. At the end of the day the family and SAR leadership called off the search.
January 11, 2008
At approximately 0900 on January 11, 2008, Alamosa Sheriff’s Office dispatched AVSAR personnel to respond to a lost hiker on the Lake Como access road. At the command post, members were briefed that two climbers, a 22 y.o. male and a 20 y.o. female had been involved in an avalanche the previous day at 1100 on the West Ridge / Hourglass Couloir route of Little Bear Peak. The male self-rescued, spent the night in the Lake Como area at their high camp, and he called 911 as soon as he reached cell contact. The female remained buried at the avalanche site. By 1100 a hasty team was flown by FFL to Lake Como and began a search of the climbers’ camp and route. They assessed the West Ridge access couloir to have extreme avalanche danger, so they descended to the command post. Simultaneously, another hasty team on ATV’s made contact with the 22 y.o. male and began transport to the San Luis Valley Medical Center. Another FFL flight was attempted to insert AVSAR personnel at the site on the south facing slope of the West Ridge just west and underneath the Hourglass. The FFL pilot aborted the insertion because of increasing winds and dropping cloud ceilings. Another hasty team attempted to reach the site by ground, but eventually was turned back at sunset by extreme conditions– deep snow, moderate winds, and extremely cold temperatures (minus 25 degrees that night at the command post). The next morning at first light, AVSAR and SAR personnel from around the state regrouped. At 0900, a Blackhawk helicopter flew in from Buckley Air Base in Aurora, and assisted in shuttling SAR teams to the site. After a scuff search and coarse probe search of the avalanche debris field, the search was called off until spring. This decision was made because of the considerable avalanche risk that remained positioned over the debris field and SAR field personnel assessed the subject’s survivability potential to be 0%. The 22 y.o. male was released after treatment. Throughout the spring and early summer, AVSAR personnel as well as SAR personnel from around the state did recons of the avalanche site for signs of the subject. The subject was ultimately recovered on June 24th, 2008.