Authorities seek clues about hunter’s mysterious disappearance
Sky-Hi Daily News
The Grand County Sheriff’s Office is still searching for more information in the case of a Denver man who mysteriously disappeared while hunting in the local area.
Dale Banker, 59, has apparently been missing since at least Sunday, Oct. 21. His guns, camping equipment and other personal items were found locked in his vehicle in the Chimney Rock area of western Grand County.
A subsequent search by Colorado Division of Wildlife officers, Grand County Sheriff’s deputies and search dog teams led by Grand County Search and Rescue has found nothing so far.
“We don’t have a lot of information to go on,” said Undersheriff Walt Eldridge.
“Although the ground search is not continuing at this time, we are still seeking contacts with people who knew him in Denver and might know what his intentions were.”
The search for Banker began in earnest last Friday, Oct. 26, after the local office of the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) notified the sheriff that a pickup truck had been parked and left unattended for several days on Forest Service Road 103 in the Chimney Rock area.
“Wildlife officers said they were contacted Oct. 21 by hunters in a nearby camp who reported that a rifle had been learning against a truck parked along the roadside,” Eldridge said.
“The hunters said they had last seen a man at the truck the previous afternoon. They were concerned that a heavy snow had fallen Saturday night and the rifle was left outside the vehicle. They reported that no sign of activity or tracks were seen around the truck.”
DOW officers checked the truck and found that it was locked. There was apparently no sign of anything suspicious other than the rifle left outside the vehicle. The officers photographed and took it into custody for safe keeping.
A subsequent check of records by DOW officers discovered that Banker was the owner of the pickup. They also learned that Banker had valid hunting licenses for the area where his truck was parked as well as an adjoining hunting area south of U.S. 40.
DOW officers continued checking on the vehicle during the week but saw no evidence of activity or fresh tracks in the snow around it.
Finally on Friday, the DOW contacted the Sheriff’s Office, which sent deputies to check out the parked vehicle. They also contacted the Denver Police Department requesting that its officers check Banker’s residence. Denver police officers were unable to contact anyone there.
On Saturday, sheriff’s deputies began a search of the vicinity where the pickup was found, which is a heavily hunted area. They also unlocked Banker’s pickup where they found another firearm, clothing, a sleeping bag and other personal items.
“We also continued trying to contact people in the Denver area to find someone who might know Banker’s plans, or if he had left the area with someone to hunt in a different area,” Eldridge said. “But we’ve had a hard time coming up with any information. He apparently didn’t have any family in Denver and his contact phone numbers were six to eight years out of date.”
Last Sunday, Oct. 28, the Sheriff’s Office sent 12 members of Grand County Search and Rescue, including four search dogs, into the area where Banker’s pickup was found. The teams searched all day but did not find any sign of Banker.
At the end of Sunday’s ground search, the Sheriff’s Office decided to impound Banker’s vehicle and had it transported to Hot Sulphur Springs.
At this time, the Sheriff’s Office is seeking more information about Banker’s whereabouts. Anyone with information is asked to call 725-3343.
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