CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– A Colorado man credits his survival after a 500 foot tumble down a snow and rock field on a mountain peak to the volunteer search and rescue crews. The hiker fell July 15 in a remote wilderness area north of Buena Vista.
The hiker, later identified as Jeffrey Ashby from Colorado Springs, remains in the hospital after his close call in the popular mountain area near the Chaffee and Lake County boarder.
Chaffee County 911 dispatchers received calls for help from hikers on La Plata Peak stating that they hear a person yelling for help on July 15.
Chaffee County Search and Rescue North and South confirmed they responded to the area where the screams were last heard and began searching.
The sheriff said searchers scoured the area until just before nightfall when they noticed a light flashing below the summit. It was Ashby, an experienced outdoor enthusiast using his headlamp to signal rescuers.
He had crawled 100 feet from where he originally landed in the fall and was now out of range for people to hear his scream, the sheriff told CBS4.
Flight for Life was called for assistance in spotting a possible victim and to pinpoint a better location.
They flew into the area and that’s when they spotted Ashby on a very steep snowfield.
Rescuers were not able to reach the person from their position so a helicopter was dispatched. A rescuer was dropped near the summit where he hiked down the steep terrain to Ashby to help him.
An Air National Guard High Altitude Training Center helicopter hoisted the victim from the mountain and taken to a waiting Flight For Life copter to take Ashby, who had a broken ankle and arm, to Summit Medical Center.
Ashby’s family says he is banged up, but they are grateful for his rescuers. They are planning a fundraiser to help support the mostly volunteer group behind this dramatic high altitude rescue.
Additional Information from Chaffee County Search & Rescue:
- SAR provides assistance to everyone. We rarely know details up front on the people we’re deploying to help – and we don’t need to. Our mission is to get out there and provide help to anyone who needs it.
- SAR does not charge to provide assistance. Always call if you need help. Always call if you see/hear something you’re concerned about.
- SAR teams are made up of volunteers & we rely on donations, grants, and contributions from members to function and provide services.
- Purchasing CORSAR card support’s the state’s SAR fund, which allows SAR teams to get reimbursed for cost of missions when a subject/victim has a SAR card. They can be purchased on line at https://dola.colorado.gov/sar/cardPurchase.jsf