October 2, 2016
At approximately 2025 hours on October 2, 2016, AVSAR Leadership was contacted by Deputy Chris Lavery regarding a call he received from a third party. They advised they were descending Mt. Blanca en route to Como Lake when they noticed some flashing lights on the ridge between Ellingwood Point and Mt. Blanca, on the east side, that appeared to have a pattern to them similar to Morse Code. They themselves did not have adequate gear to ascend the mountain and were continuing on to their camp. AVSAR Leadership contacted several field techs and explained the situation. Temperatures were expected in the low thirties with wind overnight. It was agreed we did not have enough credible evidence confirming any injuries that would warrant sending out a SAR team in the dark and would wait to see if we received additional information. No phone calls had been received so far through the 911 system. At 2055 hours we advised Deputy Lavery to let us know if he received any more calls. At 2150 hours CSP Dispatch received a 911 call from a subject advising they were lost. Deputy Lavery could hear wind in the phone and advised the subjects to stay put. They advised they had crossed a traverse and were possibly on the other side of the mountain. There were no known injuries at that time. If he were to receive any further calls, Deputy Lavery was to ascertain if they had survival gear, advise them once more to stay where they were and possibly get their bearings in the morning. They were calling from a 911 only phone so dispatch would not be able to ping their location. At 2159 hours AVSAR updated their field techs that were on standby. Deputy Lavery advised he would keep us updated and if the subjects were not able to get their bearings in daylight we would send up a hasty team. No further calls were received from the subjects requesting additional help.
September 22, 2016
On September 22, 2016, at 1344 hours AVSAR Leadership was contacted by Deputy Robert Ward with the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office regarding a request from Saguache County SAR for assistance in rescuing a fallen hiker near North Crestone Lake. Deputy Ward relayed the contact information to us and we contacted Dan Wheeler with SAGSAR. He advised the subject received a head laceration that was now bandaged and also had a fractured right femur. He was currently stable, however; the chopper was unable to land due to worsening weather concerns. They were in need of more ground personnel to help with litter carry out to another landing zone. AVSAR sent out a request to their team at 1359 hours with a rendezvous time of 1530 hours. At approximately 1500 hours team members were en route with the first arriving at 1535 hours at the Crestone Fire House, where they would be briefed and then deploy towards the trailhead. At approximately 1915 hours AVSAR Leadership received word that shortly before dusk a Blackhawk helicopter was able to fly in and after a couple of attempts was able to extract the patient. Ground techs were returning to base camp and would be debriefed and offered a meal before heading home.
August 15, 2016
At 0621 hours on Monday, August 15, 2016, AVSAR Leadership was contacted by CSP Dispatch regarding an overdue male subject. His wife was calling from Louisiana and had not heard from him since 1711 hours Sunday when he advised her he was on Como Road and that it was too rough for him to continue. She tried several times to call and text and received no more responses. AVSAR obtained the needed information to pass onto the ACSO deputy that was coming on duty. They explained to Deputy Yvonne Gonzales that a 62 year old male subject and his dog had not reached his hotel in Dumas, Texas, the night before, and he had not made it to work. Shortly after 0700 hours, Deputy Gonzales and Undersheriff Shawn Woods began the accent up Como Road to verify if his vehicle was still in the area while AVSAR Leadership continued to obtain more information on the subject and his plans. They verified that he had camping equipment with him. An Attempt to Locate was given to local law enforcement. The Alamosa Police Department checked the local hotels while the Sand Dunes Rangers checked their campsites. At 0905 hours Undersheriff Woods advised they had not located the vehicle and could drive no further up the 4×4 trail. However, they had come upon two hikers who believed there was a vehicle fitting the description of the overdue subject further up the trail. AVSAR contacted their 4×4 Specialists at 0906 hours and requested they drive up Como Road. While they were preparing to do so, Deputy Gonzales advised that on their descent down they had come in contact with a JeffCo Reserve Deputy, who was off duty, who advised them he would keep an eye open for the male subject while he went up in his 4×4 vehicle. At 1001 hours the JeffCo deputy advised he had spoken to two hikers claiming the subject had camped near them the night before and was currently packing up his camp to drive down. AVSAR contacted their 4×4 Specialists that were just heading up, and advised them to stand down while the reserve deputy made contact with the male subject. It appeared he was out of harm’s way and it was not necessary to use SAR resources at this time. At 1159 hours we received confirmation that the subject was safe and on his way down. Deputy Gonzales was en route to meet him at the Como Trailhead to make sure he was safely on his way home. AVSAR Leadership contacted the subject’s wife at 1206 hours and assured her he was safe and would be advised to give her a call when he reached cell phone range.
July 24, 2016
On Sunday evening, at 1657 hours, AVSAR Leadership was contacted by Deputy Chris Lavery regarding a request from EMS to assist them with an injured subject, with a possible hip injury, in the Zapata Falls area. They advised she might be reached by a 4-wheeler. Colorado State Patrol Dispatch advised she had fallen near the top of the falls and could not walk down on her own. AVSAR sent out an initial text to their team for a callout at approximately 1704 hours. AVSAR contacted CSP Dispatch at 1719 hours and advised the team was en route to the Zapata Falls area. At 1740 hours AVSAR made contact with the reporting party via text and was advised that the female subject, approximately 38 years old, had been hiking with her children and had injured her hip and was in too much pain to walk. The RP had made her way to the parking lot to get cell service and dialed 911. At 1815 hours team members began arriving at the trailhead. At 1823 hours AVSAR was advised the EMTs were able to hike up to the subject’s location, confirmed to be at the base of the falls, render aid to her and keep her comfortable until team members arrived with a 4-wheeler. She had apparently slipped on the wet rocks and made contact with a boulder just above her hip. She was brought down at 1907 hours via a 4-wheeler and transported by ambulance to SLV Health.
July 6-7, 2016
At approximately 2215 hours on July 6, 2016, AVSAR Leadership was contacted by Deputy Chris Lavery of the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office. He advised that Conejos County Sheriff Howard Galvez was requesting our assist with two callouts that were currently taking place in their county. CSRB had also been contacted to help locate SAR teams for these callouts and after AVSAR receiving details from both Conejos County and CSRB, we sent out a text followed up by the necessary phone calls for a Thursday morning assist. A male hiker was lost and a body had been discovered over a cliff. Both incidences were located near the Spectacle Lake area.
AVSAR team members were to meet at the Conejos County Sheriff’s Office at approximately 0930 hours on July 7, 2016 and be briefed on which incident they were to assist on. Throughout the day team members continued on down to Conejos County as their jobs allowed. Due to the sensitive nature of the body recovery mission teams were advised to stay on a less used frequency. At approximately 1700 hours AVSAR Leadership received word that the male hiker had been located and was safe. They also advised that the team handling the recovery was headed back to town. AVSAR sent out a text advising the team that both missions were complete and that they would not be needed for a Friday callout.
June 23 2016
At 1127 hours on June 23, 2016, AVSAR Leadership was contacted by Deputy Chris Lavery of the Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office. He stated that Undersheriff Shawn Woods was requesting the team be put on standby for a possible assist to the Rio Grande County Sheriff’s Office. They had a missing male subject in the area of Alamosa Canyon and had located his car. A text was sent out to the team at 1130 hours for a headcount to see who would be available for an afternoon callout, if needed. AVSAR Leadership advised Deputy Lavery that we had about a dozen SAR personnel on standby. At approximately 1550 hours we contacted the deputy to check on the status of the standby. At 1604 hours he contacted us and advised that Undersheriff Woods was unable to reach the search team in Rio Grande County due to a lack of cell phone service in the canyon. AVSAR’s team was told to stand down at 1615 hours. Later we received word that unfortunately the subject had been located and a recovery had taken place.