PUEBLO COUNTY, COLORADO – In an exemplary display of coordination and expertise, a family of five from Chicago was rescued from the Greenhorn Mountains by the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office and several local response teams on Wednesday evening.
The family, consisting of three adults and two children, embarked on a hike along the Greenhorn Trailhead on Wednesday morning. Their ascent towards the summit was hindered by challenges including high altitude, unexpected snowfall, and a lack of experience in such conditions. As the evening approached, with dwindling food supplies and inadequate clothing for the plummeting temperatures, the family made a critical decision to call for emergency assistance.
This call initiated a complex, nearly seven-hour rescue operation involving the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office volunteer Search and Rescue (SAR) team, the Sheriff’s Fire Team, Deputies, Rye Fire, and Flight for Life. Demonstrating commendable inter-agency cooperation, the SAR team was airlifted to North Peak. Using GPS, they located the family, who were in a state of fatigue and cold but otherwise unharmed. After providing essential sustenance and warmth, the rescuers escorted the family across the peak to meet the fire personnel from Bartlett Trailhead. The group then proceeded to Ophir Creek, where emergency vehicles were stationed. Thankfully, the family descended the mountain without incident and reunited with their other relatives.
This successful operation underscores the importance of preparation and situational awareness in outdoor activities, especially in mountainous regions. The family, despite their ordeal, had taken significant preventative measures. They carried items from a recommended outdoor survival kit and informed relatives of their hiking plans. Their timely decision to seek help, adherence to the 911 operator’s instructions, and staying in a known location were crucial in facilitating their rescue.
Safety Tips and Lessons Learned:
- Inform Others of Your Plans: Always let someone know your hiking route and expected return time.
- Carry Essential Supplies: Include a basic survival kit with food, water, and first-aid materials.
- Dress Appropriately: Wear suitable clothing for changing weather conditions.
- Understand Your Limits: Know your physical capabilities and experience level.
- Check Weather Forecasts: Stay updated on weather changes, especially in mountainous areas.
- Learn Basic Navigation Skills: GPS devices are helpful, but also learn to use a map and compass.
- Stay on Marked Trails: This reduces the risk of getting lost and protects the environment.
- Conserve Battery Life: Use your phone sparingly and keep it for emergencies.
- React Wisely in Emergencies: If lost or in danger, call for help sooner rather than later.
- Practice Leave No Trace Principles: Minimize your impact on the environment.
The Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office commends the family for their preparedness and the responding teams for their skilled and coordinated efforts. This incident serves as a potent reminder of the challenges and unpredictability of outdoor adventures, emphasizing the need for caution and preparedness among all wilderness enthusiasts.
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