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Body of missing hiker found on Blanca Peak

Search and rescue crews recovered Vaughn Fetzer's body on Monday after friends looking in the area discovered his location.

ALAMOSA, Colo. — Rescue teams recovered the body of a missing hiker in the area of Blana Peak on Monday, Alamosa Volunteer Search and Rescue (AVSR) said.

Vaughn Fetzer was reported overdue from a hike on Saturday, Sept. 18, according to the Alamosa County Sheriff's Office (ACSO).

Fetzer's friends discovered his body while searching the area on Sunday, and ASVR dispatched a 58HJ Helitak Flight Crew of Canon City to survey the area.

The Helitak then took ASVR teams in Monday morning, who hiked up a large scree field to Fetzer's location.

His body was in a location that was blocked by a boulder, visually blocking his location from most directions including the air.

The team recovered Fetzer, and flew back to ASVR's incident command where the body was turned over to the Costilla County Coroner.

>> See photos from the search teams below


The search area for Fetzer included all probable routes, each with a significant risk of injury or death, including steep loose terrain and exposure, AVSR said. Blanca Peak is one of the state's fourteeners, located in the Sangre de Cristo Range in southern Colorado.

Two days into the search, a dislodged slab of rock in the Gash Ridge area fell several feet and struck a rescue team member, injuring their leg, according to AVSR.

"We took calculated risks and deployed our team with intentionality to cover that terrain thoroughly to the best of our ability and with a margin of safety," said Crystal Wilson, AVSR president and incident commander.

A helicopter extracted the volunteer, and EMS evaluated him before he was taken to a hospital. He sustained contusions to his tibia, foot and had a large open wound but is now recovering, Wilson said.

The search was suspended soon after, before Fetzer's friends found his body.

"We must prioritize the safety of all teams, and pushing into that terrain any further would require a level of risk that is beyond what we believe is reasonable."

After the search was suspended ASVR said it coordinated to have a drove operator from another search and rescue team assist in the search, and that Fetzer's possible location was reported hours before their arrival.

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