ID still unknown for fallen hiker

UPDATE: Hiker has been identified


ALAMOSA — Authorities have not yet been able to identify a man who fell to his death on Mount Blanca on Friday.

Apparently hiking with no identification on him, and with no one yet reported missing, law enforcement and the coroner are having to use creative methods to determine the man’s identity.

“We are working with CBI (Colorado Bureau of Investigation) trying to figure things out,” said Alamosa County Coroner Kevin Rogers on Monday. “We do not have positive identification yet.”

Rogers said fingerprints were taken from the man, who fell to his death late morning on Friday, and the CBI will be running them to see if they match anyone in their database. Rogers said a match would only be found if the man had had his fingerprints recorded for some reason, such as applying for a job that required that or having a criminal history.

CBI staff advised Rogers it would probably be at least Wednesday before they would know whether the man’s fingerprints matched anything on file.

At the same time, the El Paso County Coroner’s Office is conducting an autopsy of the body that was recovered from the mountain late Friday, Rogers said. The autopsy results have not yet been released.

Rogers said this incident illustrates the need for people to always carry identification on their person at all times. He and Alamosa County Sheriff Robert Jackson said no ID was found on the body or near it. They said it was possible that the man’s ID became separated from him during the fall, but search and rescue workers did not find anything at the site.

Rogers recommended to everyone to make sure they have ID with them, such as in a pocket, because it can be more difficult for authorities to make a positive identification without it. It also delays contact of next of kin, he added.

He and the sheriff said there had been no people reported missing, but it could be that the man was not expected back yet, so no one was aware he was missing.

Sheriff Jackson said his office is working with Alamosa Volunteer Search and Rescue to get a deputy in a rock crawler (truck that can navigate the mountainous terrain) back up to the Lake Como area to photograph license plates of vehicles parked on the mountain to help in the identification process.

“There’s cars all the way up there,” Jackson said.

Because the man was not carrying a backpack, it is possible he was parked and camped in that area so had not planned to be gone that long, the sheriff explained.

“We think it might be pretty close to Como,” he said.

Usually someone expecting to be gone for a while will carry at least a light backpack with provisions, Jackson said. This man did not appear to have anything like that with him. The sheriff said recovery team members did not even find any keys on him.

Since it is difficult to get to the area even with a four-wheel-drive, the sheriff’s office and search and rescue team will try to get the rock crawler up there with a deputy to photograph license plates of vehicles in the vicinity, he added.

“It should be pretty obvious if a car’s been up there since last Friday,” the sheriff said. “It would have dust and rain. It will look like it’s been up there a couple of days.”

The victim of the fatal fall was believed to have been a man in his 20’s. Witnesses heard rocks sliding and then saw the body of the hiker about 11 a.m. on Friday. Search and rescue team members were then airlifted in to begin recovery efforts, which took many hours in the rough terrain, with stormy weather adding to the difficult recovery.

The fatality occurred between Mount Blanca Peak and Lake Como, maybe a little higher than Crater Lake, according to the sheriff.

The death is not being considered criminal or suspicious.

UPDATE: The hiker has been identified.