Missions

Friday, February 8, 2013: Grand County Tracking Assist / West View Peak - Overdue 85 YOA Male

Two LCSAR/RMT Trackers, Dave Hake and Doug Grimm went to Grand County to assist them with a search for an 85 year old male.

His car was located 18 miles north of Granby at a pull off on hwy 125 up near West View Peak between Granby and Walden. It was later determined the car had been there and tagged by CSP on January 31st. He's an avid cross-country-skier, living in the area and for 40 years and was known for skiing alone. There had been at least 8 days with 5" to 8" of snow and wind during that time period. They could see some tracks heading west of the parking area and assumed they were from the subject but because of weather history, they wanted to get some trackers to confirm that and who could follow them in areas where they are covered.

The search was going to start at 08:00 on the morning of the 8th and they wanted the trackers to start early before the rest of the teams head in.

We followed the tracks for about a mile and a second team caught up with us and both teams worked together in moving the line of tracks. The tracks were visible enough to follow without too much difficulty but at times were confusing because they switched from skis to boots then back to skis. It was eye opening to many that they could be followed even after the weather history.

At 10:40 and about a mile and a halve in, the second team located the subject at the end of the tracks. He was completely covered in snow except for ski tips sticking out. He was deceased and and investigation was conducted by their investigator. We departed the area before the evacuation because they had enough resources and so we could head back to Ft. Collins.

June 13th, 2012 Escaped Inmate - Wyoming Honor Farm, Newcastle, WY

Called out to help recover an escaped inmate from the Wyoming Honor Farm in Newcastle, Wyoming . Subject had been missing two days and the local sheriffs dept. and Weston county SAR, and Wyoming Department of Corrections had been actively searching. They contacted Wyoming State Trackers to establish a line of travel. Shortly after WST arrived the subject was spotted 21 miles from Honor Farm and apprehended. Trackers responding Brian Zerbe, Fred Wilson, Terry Browder, Dan Pannet. (note; trackers did not contribute to this search but the fact that we were called into a county where we do not have any RMT Members, and for a law enforcement roll, is a huge step forward.)

May 16th, 2012 Missing - Felon, Lusk, WY

May 16,2012 responded to a call from Niobrara County Sherriff's office to help locate a missing felon north of Lusk, RMT members responding were, Dan Pannet, Richard Ladwig, Brian Zerbe and members of Niobrara county SAR. Located subjects vehicle, Identified sign, established line of travel, and followed sign at which time subject self rescued.

October 14th, 2011 (Friday) Missing Male Hiker, Lair O The Bear west of Denver

At approximately 12:00 (noon) I received permission to examine the subjects vehicle. The vehicle had already been secured and taped off. Also, people had already gone into the vehicle to gather scent articles for dog teams. The ground was hard packed dirt with gravel and was covered with leaves. A steady breeze was blowing moving the leaves, some fallen ribbon, and dust across the ground around the car.

A track was located by the drivers door perpendicular to the car as is often placed when a person exits the vehicle (the deputy present stated that while people had opened the doors of the car to remove items, no one had entered the vehicle so it is believed this print was made by the subject). Much of the track was obscured by the damage caused by the wind, but a diamond lug patter could still be made out and measurements taken. Several other tracks were observed around the car, but none matched the described above so are believed to be from earlier people securing the vehicle.

I was unable to find the signature print any other location around the parking lot due to the difficult terrain and heavy traffic, so I deployed with the rest of the LCSAR team to our designated area. The LCSAR team split into two sub teams: one checking out the drainage and one climbing up to the top of the ridge; I was on the sub team going to the top of the ridge along with a dog team. On the way up, I noticed sign of someone else climbing up the ridge with the correct aging to be the subject. The sign was measured and determined to be a match for the track found by the door of the subject's vehicle. Following the sign up, I came to a log where someone had sat down and had left behind a water bottle of the same type the subject was reported to be carrying. From here, the sign continued up the ridge to the top and over it where I lost the sign on the rocky terrain. This was in the same direction as the dog team was indicating interest. We decided that since the tracks and the dog team were both suggesting the same direction, all of LCSAR would search the next ridge. The subject was located in a drainage on the side of that ridge where he had fallen down the slope. The subject did not respond to yelling or other noise, and he was wearing camouflage. When located, the subject received medical attention and was brought down to a waiting ambulance.

Since then, we've learned that the subject was in fact wearing the diamond lug patter that was found (diamonds in the center of the toe). While not seeing them in the sign, a lug patter around it... the diamonds were exactly as drawn.

Matt D., RMT Vice President/JHPTS Basic Tracker

Saturday, August 15, 2011: CSRB/Park County Assist - Missing 44 YOA Male Near Bison Mountain

20:15 Larimer County SAR managers were paged to call Bruce Fosdick with Colorado Search and Rescue Board reference assist for Park County. Since Bruce already knew my phone number he called me direct for the request to make sure it came through. I gathered the information of a 44 year old male who went on an "extended adventure" was not heard from since July 25th (19 days ago). The last he was heard from was a text to a friend from the top of Bison Mountain located in Park County. The search has been going on since Friday night. CSRB dispatched searchers from surrounding counties to assist on Saturday. One of the search dog teams reported finding tracks and their dog was working it so well, that they thought for sure they had the subject. They came to a point where the dog lost interest and they couldn't find anymore tracks. Barry Mitchell with CSRB was running IC so he wanted trackers brought in on Sunday to determine if these tracks could be 19 days old and in fact our subject.

I called the RMT field coordinator Dan Remsburg with the information and to have him put out a text alert. I had already decided I would respond since it was a Sunday and we needed to make sure we had someone respond to this since they finally requested trackers. Dan put the page out.

Doug Grimm called me direct to see if I was going and eventually decided to respond. We needed to be at IC at 07:00 and we had a 4 hour drive, so we departed at 03:00. Of course I didn't get to bed until 12:00 because I wanted to gather as much information as I could like maps and information about the subject. Here's a link to one of the stories I found on the search. News Article As far as weather information for the area, I didn't bother since in the mountains it could rain hard in one area and a 1/2 mile away could be dry.

8-14-2011, 06:45 arrival and checked in with Barry. It had rained very hard Saturday evening with a lot of grapple (sp?) (small hail). There was a layer of it on the ground in many places with lots of it accumulated in the ditches. I'm sure this wasn't the the first of this kind of weather in the 19 days that he was missing so we knew it was going to be difficult to see his sign if we were going to see it at all. This was what we had in mind when we heard a dog team found tracks so evident. We wanted to check them out anyway because that's what we were called in to do and the dog team that reported them had a good reputation with the search dog world. Of course we wanted to go to the Last Know Point of the text message on top of the mountain but it was a 4 to 5 mile hike in and a very large summit area and in fact multiple summits points with lots of granite. Our time was better spent following up on a possibility of a human track coming off of the mountain to the north (off trail). We looked around the vehicle. The storm had wiped clean with water flow marks, even the tracks from the people who were collecting information the day before from it. We aged some of the grasses and vegetation that the tires had rolled over to get an idea of what we might find in his track should we find it.

He often went on peak bagging excursions and so this wasn't out of the normal for him to go on his own to do this. His sister who lives in North Carolina hadn't heard from him in a while and eventually started calling some of his friends out here. That's when they realized the last anyone heard from him was July 25th. The hike itself should have been fairly simple, but there's not much of a "trail" to the summit once you go off of a trail that takes you near it. Most just wander off towards the multiple summit points up there. There are several other peaks in the local area so it's possible he wanted to bag another while up there.

The car wasn't located until Friday when the sister contacted Park County once she realized the Bison Mountain was the last place he had been heard from.

Doug and I set out to find the tracks that were marked with some flagging and they gave us Lat. Lon. coordinates. They also showed us on a map where they were. We marked our map and set out for that location before plugging in the coordinates. We hike 2 to 3 miles in and got in the general area of the map and before trudging up the hill. We found flagging tied to a stick on the ground for one of the tracks. As far as we could tell, they were pointing out two large Elk track next to each other. Yes, it looked like a human boot print, but in close observation, you could see the rounding and shapes of the hooves and the separation of the two. We decided to find all 6 locations before confirming that they were in fact seeing elk tracks vs. human tracks. Sure enough, that's what they were marking. We could see the searchers tracks along side and following the same well beaten elk trail.

We called this information in and it as getting to be about 2:30, so we decided to head in because we had a 4 hour drive home an it had been a long day. We debriefed and heard that another dog team had had lots of interest in the East side of the summit which would be in a direction towards another peak. They were probably going to hit that area hard with searchers the next day. We hit the road home.

RMT assist Carbon County, WY for missing 72 year-old hunter

RMT was asked to assist Carbon County, WY for a search for a missing 72 year-old Minnisota man missing while hunting near Arlington, Wy. Keith Black, Donna Ickes, Dave Hake, Scott Evans and Jose Negron were the RMT members dispatched.

There was a small layer of snow on the ground when the subject went missing and before any trackers were on scene the snow had melted away resulting in very little sign left for the teams to work. There were a few unidentifiable tracks found in a couple shaded areas that still had snow. This helped direct the search to some extent but the subject has still not been located as of this report. The search went for several days and was ultimately suspended until more clues have been located.

There will be continued searching by a few RMT members in the spring in hopes of finding more clues to help in this search.

News Article in Billings Gazette

Tracking Success Story July 8th, 2004

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Reported by David Hake
Larimer County Search and Rescue and Rocky Mountain Trackers

I was contacted by our Sergeant in charge of Search and Rescue who was assisting RMNP in a search for a missing 80-year old Park Volunteer in Rocky Mountain National Park. He was a volunteer for the park for many years and was treated as part of the Park Ranger's family. They had searched most of the day and into the evening with no success and decided to bring Trackers in to see if they could possibly locate the subject or at least get a direction of travel before the second crew of searchers were brought in the next day. The subject's name is Walter Tishma and has hiked to the summit of Longs Peak (a 14,000' peak in the park) over 100 times. He was on one of his Longs Peak Trail patrols when he disappeared.

A hiker last saw him on a trail that connects Longs Peak Trail to the Estes Cone Trail. This was not his expected route but the hiker exchanged names with Walter so it was a creditable sighting of Walter. Scott Evans and myself (David Hake) were called in at 12:00 midnight to see if we could pick up his tracks or sign at the Point Last Seen or PLS. By the time we had our gear together, and drove to Estes Park from Ft. Collins, it was 2:15am when we arrived at RMNP. They briefed us on the situation and we headed to the PLS. All the other searchers were pulled out of the field at that time except for trail blocks in hope of catching Walter hiking out.

At 2:50 am we arrived at the PLS. We started cutting for sign to see if we could pick up something going off trail at the switchback just 1/4 mile north of the PLS. We found some sign that lead off the trail there and worked it. Scott found the first identifiable track. It was a standard old Vibram sole pattern and it matched what they thought he would be wearing. There was a drainage just down from the switchback and even back at ICP we thought that it would be a place to check. No one at this time had been down it. We continued to work the sign and saw that it went left then up, stopping at piles of trees, then back down, then back up as if he was trying to find the trail again. Eventually it started heading down and more consistently as if he had given up on finding the trail and started to panic.

Since we had it narrowed down to one drainage, we decided to do a bigger cut down the drainage yelling his name and blowing our search horns. We finally got a response! Then we couldn't get another one for the next 5 minutes! We were beginning to wonder if we were hearing things or if another team was in the area. It was about 5:20am and ICP said no one was in the area so we continued to work in the direction of the yell. Finally, he responded again! We zoomed in on him and found him cold, wet and hypothermic. He was missing one shoe with cuts and scrapes from falling down but alive and ok! When asked were his shoe was he said he lost his shoe a long ways back! I back tracked him and found a place were he had fallen only about 50 feet from where he lay and his shoe was at the bottom of the fall laying in the water of the creek. I found another place were he took a good fall and then drug himself to where we found him.

He was warmed up and treated in the field by Park Rangers and us. He was evacuated out of the area by other Search and Rescue Volunteers who were preparing to continue the search if we didn't find him.


Missing 5 Year Old Autistic Boy - Teller County, Colorado

El Paso County Search and Rescue/Rocky Mountain Trackers

The Teller County Search and Rescue’s Incident Commander initially requested search dogs to assist them after a 5 year old autistic boy, described as a “runner”, ran away from his home at approximately 1700 hours. The home was located on a large wooded property, and adjacent to several square miles of wilderness. Two air scent dog teams and one trailing team initially responded and searched throughout the night, without being able to locate him. Numerous SAR members of that county, and National Guard volunteers, also spent the night searching for the boy. The next morning, May 3rd, additional assistance was requested from El Paso County Search and Rescue (EPCSAR) and other SAR teams. 14 Jan 2006 by Keith & Donna Black

Overdue Hiker On Pike’s Peak

El Paso County Search and Rescue/Rocky Mountain Trackers

On an average weather morning, a hiker headed up Pike’s Peak alone, carrying a backpack and using trek poles for the hike. His intention was to get to the top of the peak and descend on the train in the afternoon. Going through Barr Camp (mileage-wise the halfway point to the top) late in the afternoon, the camp caretaker advised the hiker not to try to get to the top, as the tourist train that ascends the peak regularly may not be running by the time he reached the top, and there are usually adverse conditions possible late in the day. The hiker wished to try anyway and promptly left for the top. 14 Jan 2006 by rmtadmin

Missing 82 year-old Alzheimer patient - Loveland, Colorado

Larimer County SAR and Rocky Mountain Trackers

Received call for an 82-year-old Alzheimer patient that had been missing for a half an hour (he had walked off before so they knew to call right away). It was in a rural area just east of an interstate highway near Loveland. Two deputies were on the scene and did a quick search of the areas the subject had been known to go to. After that they did a great job of securing the area to preserve the scene. That made a tremendous difference in the outcome. 14 Jan 2006 by rmtadmin