Family overdue from hike in Weminuche Wilderness found

Family overdue in Weminuche Wilderness found
Posted on 07/18/2016

UPDATE: 10:05 p.m., July 18: The four hikers, ages 33, 8, and 6 years old who were lost since Saturday in the Weminuche Wilderness Area have been found. They were contacted by another group of hikers who guided them down to the Pine River Trail and helped them out to the Pine River Trailhead around 8:30 p.m. Monday.Members of Upper Pine Fire Dept are en route to the trailhead to assess the group's condition. 

UPDATE: 8:20 p.m., July 18:  
The search for four people overdue from a hiking trip on Saturday will continue tonight. La Plata County Search & Rescue expects an Air Force helicopter to arrive from Kirkland Air Force Base and conduct searches tonight using night vision. Today's search crews have been recalled to rest and re-supply and trained night searchers will be deployed through the night. 
La Plata County Colorado Search & Rescue (LPCSAR) crews are searching for 4 people, overdue from a hiking trip that began Saturday.  The missing, residents of La Plata County, include a 33-year-old Dustin Beaver and his three children: 8 year-old-boy; 8-year-old girl; a 6-year-old boy. The children’s names are not being released.

The man’s wife reported her family missing at about 10:14PM MST Sunday after she found her husband’s car parked at the Cave Basin Trailhead on Middle Mountain, north of Vallecito Lake, northeast of Durango, Colorado.

Two different hiking groups told authorities they spoke with the man on the trail Saturday and he said they were hiking to Dollar Lake. Dollar Lake is near 12,000’ altitude. The 15 square mile search area is along the border of La Plata County and Hinsdale County in the Weminuche Wilderness Area. The search includes areas above and below timberline. There are several game and livestock trails that can be confusing. Some of those trails lead downhill to very steep, rugged terrain.       

Ground teams from La Plata County Search & Rescue began searching early Monday morning. A helicopter from Flight For Life flew SAR personnel over the area during the morning. In the afternoon a Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad helicopter continued the air search.  4 K-9 teams from LPCSAR were also deployed.  Approximately 28 searchers were in the field by afternoon.

Contingency plans are being made for search efforts tomorrow.  La Plata County Sheriff’s Office is working with the Colorado Department of Homeland Security & Emergency Management (CDHSEM) and Colorado Search & Rescue Board (CSRB) to contact the United States Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC)  to request a Colorado National Guard helicopter with infrared or other night sensors to conduct low level nighttime searches if the group is not located by dusk. If mountain hikers or campers hear or see low flying aircraft tonight or tomorrow, they are helping with the search.