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Body of Denver hiker recovered from San Juan Mountains

The 26-year-old man's body was located after a two-day search near the Redcloud and Sunshine peak trailheads.
Credit: Hinsdale County Office of Emergency Management

LAKE CITY, Colo. — The body of a missing hiker from Denver was recovered Wednesday from the San Juan Mountains near Lake City, according to a Facebook post by the Hinsdale County Office of Emergency Management.

Ben Brownlee, 26, of Denver was last seen by a fellow hiker Saturday morning in an area east of Redcloud Peak, the post says. He was reported missing on Sunday evening after failing to return from his solo hiking trip. Crews began looking for him early Monday. 

"Brownlee was an experienced and avid hiker, whose general itinerary was to hike 13,000-foot peaks in the Lake City area of the San Juan Mountains," the Facebook post says. 

Brownlee's car was located at the trailhead of Redcloud and Sunshine Peak early Monday by the Hinsdale County Sheriff Department, the post says. 

Helicopter sweeps were conducted Monday over an area where Brownlee indicated he would be hiking, along with on-the-ground searches by members of Hinsdale County Search and Rescue. 

The search continued Tuesday with more than a dozen search and rescue personnel on foot along with Brownlee’s family and friends, the post says. 

On Tuesday afternoon, Brownlee’s body was located with the use of a private helicopter chartered by his family, according to the post. 

Officials believe Brownlee died from a fall. His body was spotted about 75 to 100 feet below a steep and rocky ridge southeast of Cooper Creek Peak, the post says. 

Brownlee's body was recovered by a rescue helicopter on Wednesday shortly before 2 p.m. His body was then transferred to the Hinsdale County Coroner.

Brownlee’s family was updated throughout the process, and were on scene as his body was recovered, the post says. 

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