DURANGO | Authorities in Colorado have found the body of a Denver man who went missing while hiking by himself in the San Juan Mountains.
Avid hiker Ben Brownlee, 26, was last seen Saturday around 11:30 a.m. hiking from the Silver Creek/Grizzly Gulch trailhead, about 18 miles (30 kilometers) southwest of Lake City, the Durango Herald reported.
Brownlee told two hikers while he was coming down a mountain that he just reached the summit and was next going to climb to the top of an adjacent mountain known as Redcloud Peak, personnel from the Hinsdale County Office of Emergency Management said.
A search and rescue mission was launched Monday after he never returned, authorities said. More than a dozen ground crews and several helicopters looked for him. Crews located his car but could not find him.
A private helicopter chartered by his family located what is believed to be Brownlee’s body Tuesday around 5 p.m. about 100 feet (30 meters) below a steep, rocky ridge.
Authorities planned to recover the body Wednesday. The recovery requires specialized operations to reach the location. The Office of Emergency Management said next of kin was notified.
Attempts to reach Hinsdale County spokeswoman Sandy Hines were not immediately successful Wednesday.
Brownlee, a former distance runner at the University of Kansas, was an assistant coach with the Regis Jesuit cross country team, which competed in its regional meet Thursday. The team wore bracelets and t-shirts in Brownlee’s honor, while many runners also wrote his name on their arms or legs.
— Sentinel Colorado sports editor Courtney Oakes contributed to this report