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'We'll keep him in our hearts forever': Young Marine from Colorado dies

Christopher Hutchings, 19, was a graduate of Buena Vista High School.

DENVER — A young Marine from Colorado has died. 

A spokesperson for the U.S. Marine Corps confirmed that Private First Class Christopher Hutchings, 19, was pronounced deceased in his barracks at Camp Pendleton in Southern California on Feb. 5. 

"We take all loss of life very seriously and extend our deepest condolences to those affected," the spokesperson said in a statement. "PFC Hutchings was a valued member of the MWSS-372 “Diamondbacks” family and is missed greatly."

The cause of Hutchings' death is under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). The agency said that is routine in the case of non-combat, medically unattended fatalities of Department of the Navy service members. 

The Buena Vista Police Department (BVPD) said on Facebook that Hutchings was a 2022 graduate of Buena Vista High School and a member of the school's wrestling team.

Buena Vista community members showed up to the state wrestling tournament in Denver Saturday wearing shirts with Hutchings' name on the sleeve and pins with Hutchings' picture. 

But community members are remembering him for his time off the wrestling mat, too. 

"There's nothing the kid couldn't do," Craig Cardwell told 9NEWS. 

Cardwell is a business owner and family friend of Hutchings.

Hutchings worked at Cardwell's mining company in the summertime. 

"Chris was a natural as far as, you know, everything to do with the shop, changing tires, changing oil, getting the team ready to go up the mountain," Cardwell said. "He was one of the most focused kids I think I've ever met. Just, just dedicated. Whether it was wrestling, cross country, working for us, working with his dad or any anything he participated in, it was 100%."

But Cardwell said Hutchings also knew how to have fun. 

"You better keep your head on the swivel because he was a prankster, too," he said. "He was a truly remarkable young man. He'll be sorely missed and we'll keep him in our hearts forever."

Hutchings' funeral services, with full military honors, will be held in Buena Vista on Feb. 26. 

According to the Chaffee County Sheriff's Office, local emergency responders will participate in a procession to honor him that day.

The department said response vehicles will leave sheriff's office headquarters in Salida at approximately 12:30pm. They will head west on West 3rd Street to Highway 291, then go north. After that they will go north on Highway 285 to Buena Vista, then east on Main Street and south on South Railroad Street to Buena Vista High School for the services.  

Credit: Luis de Leon
Fans from Buena Vista wore pins with Hutchings picture on Saturday, as they supported the Buena Vista wrestling team at the state tournament.

They're asking citizens to line the procession route waving either the American flag or the U.S. Marine Corps flag in Hutchings' honor.

Credit: Photo courtesy of Craig Cardwell
Chris Hutchings also worked for a local mining company, according to the company's owner and family friend Craig Cardwell.

Cardwell started a fundraiser for Hutchings' family. You can learn more about that here.



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