Custer County Search and Rescue was activated by the Custer County Sheriff’s Office at 15:01 on Friday, June 24th for a 64 old male party from Colorado Springs who had fallen, hit a rock and had severe head injuries. Teams were deployed to the Peerless Mine area near the Duckett Creek trail head, to access the patient who had reportedly fallen above the Lower Brush Creek Lake.
The fall had reportedly occurred at approximately 13:30 hours, while the man and his climbing partner were descending on snow. The two were camped in the area and had climbed Lakes Peak and Thirsty Peak, (both 13-ers). Around 11,800 feet, the party slipped and fell 25-30 feet head first, hitting a rock, then falling an estimated 100 additional feet, on snow. The climbing partner reported that he had assisted the patient for more than an hour, prior to hiking out enough, to obtain cell service to active SAR. Two individuals in an unrelated party also gave assistance, with the subject walking out under his own power for some time.
SAR Teams were able to reach the patient at 17:30 hours and continued to slowly make their way out with the ambulatory patient, for a time. Just outside the wilderness boundary, the patient suffered complications and an urgenct extraction was requested. That extraction involved additional ground team members, two ATV teams and the ATV litter trailer. EMS was inserted by ATV Team 1, where a Custer County EMS EMT joined another EMT already on scene at 19:00 hours. The patient was evacuated via a stokes litter and the ATV trailer to Med 4, awaiting at the Duckett Creek Trailhead, where he was transported to an area hospital for treatment.
Fifteen CCSAR personnel responded, staffing Search Base, Hasty, Ground, Horse and ATV teams. One member of the Custer County Sheriff’s department also dispatched to the scene, as well as two EMS personnel. The mission was completed and all SAR members were released at 22:10.
Custer County Search and Rescue responded to extract a Texas man from the Texas Creek trail #1350 on Monday, September 7th. James Woodfin, 76 of Midland Texas, who was hunting in the area, was seriously injured when the mule he was riding on fell, landing on top of him.
Woodfin’s hunting partner reported that when he returned to camp near lunchtime, he found the mule there with the saddle inverted and then found Woodfin nearby. He was able to assist him into the tent and left on horseback to notify authorities. The fall occurred at approximately 7:30 in the morning and Woodfin reported it took him four hours to get back to camp.
CCSAR members were activated at 3:45pm and additional field support from Fremont County SAR was requested shortly after. Rescuers obtained access to the Rainbow Trail via the Spread Eagle Pines subdivision, from which they accessed the trailhead. The hunting camp was located 3.6 miles above the trailhead, in heavy timber. Flight for Life’s Lifeguard 3 was able to land 1.1 miles below camp and their medical team hiked to the patient for treatment.
Ground teams were used to litter carry the man down to the landing zone, where the air ambulance was able to transport Mr. Woodfin out of the area at 1:15 on Tuesday morning. He was transported to St. Mary Corwin hospital in Pueblo. All teams were back at the rescue barn by 3:30 am, when the mission concluded.
Custer County Search and Rescue responded for a recovery mission on Crestone Needle’s Ellingwood Arête route on Thursday September 3rd after receiving two 911 notifications just before 10:00 am. Western State Mountain Rescue Team and Saguache County SAR also participated as mutual aid in the two day mission.
Dr. Matt Davis of Belmote Texas died from injuries he sustained in the fall on the peak’s technical route. Davis was a trauma director who specialized in emergency surgery and surgical critical care and is survived by a wife and three children.
The mission was hampered by bad weather and impending darkness in the difficult terrain. Rescue teams retreated to a nearby campsite just before dark, where they spent the night in the field after planning the detailed recovery effort which began at 5am Friday morning. Recovery efforts included an 850 foot technical lowering operation. Teams then got Davis to a landing zone near the Upper South Colony Lake, where Flight for Life’s Lifeguard 4 assisted in the operation at 12:30pm. All teams were back at the CCSAR rescue barn and the mission concluded at 5:30 pm on Friday September 5th.
Alma Golden, posted on the CCSAR team’s Facebook page that “our family is eternally grateful to Custer County SAR. Matt loved Westcliffe and all our amazing mountains. Thanks for your endurance, professionalism, tender and respectful care. Thanks for bringing back my precious son.”