Pueblo, Co. - The incredible teamwork and tenacity of several Pueblo County Sheriff’s units, Rye Fire and Flight for Life led to the successful rescue of a Chicago family of five after they became fatigued and stranded in the Greenhorn Mountains Wednesday evening.
The family of three adults and two children had gone out for a hike on the Greenhorn Trailhead Wednesday morning and were nearing the summit when they became hampered by effects of the altitude, unexpected snow and their experience level, which slowed their progress. As it was nearing dusk and realizing they still had quite a long way to go with no food and inadequate clothing for the dropping temperatures, the family called 911 for help.
The Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office volunteer Search and Rescue (SAR) team, the Sheriff’s Fire Team and Deputies responded along with Rye Fire and Flight for Life to help locate and bring the family safely down the mountain after a nearly 7-hour operation.
Members of the SAR team were airlifted by Flight for Life to the top of North Peak, where they located (with the assistance of GPS) the cold and hungry family members and gave them food, water and warmth. As darkness fell on them, the SAR team members hiked with the family about a mile over the peak where they were met by fire personnel who had hiked from the Bartlett Trailhead. The entire group then hiked the rest of the way to the top of Ophir Creek where emergency vehicles were waiting for them. Everyone arrived down the mountain safely and were reunited with family members who did not join in the hike.
While this rescue took extensive time and coordination by all involved, we commend this family for the things they did that led to their successful rescue.
The family had several of the items recommended in an outdoor survival kit and they told family members of their hiking plans prior to departure. They also had the awareness to call for help before it became a life-threatening emergency, before it got dark, and before their cell phone died. They also followed 9-1-1 operator instructions and remained in one location until rescuers could arrive and locate them.
We remind hikers or anyone going on trails or in the mountains to be prepared and aware of conditions and abilities before going out, especially this time of year when conditions can change rapidly, and the sun sets earlier.
We commend all the responders for a successful and safe operation.