Rocky Mountain National Park rangers locate Trail Ridge Road ‘hiker’
Jay Starr Jr., 34, of Cohoes, N.Y., led Rocky Mountain National Park rangers and other searchers on a multi-day goose chase along Trail Ridge Road, which the man told park officials he intended to hike from east to west beginning Monday, according to a prepared statement from the park.
After days of searching, they found him late Thursday afternoon near Ute Crossing. He was airlifted to Medical Center of the Rockies. His status was not available at press time.
On Monday, Jan. 26, park rangers contacted Starr after he entered Rocky Mountain National Park on foot and indicated he was planning to walk westbound over Trail Ridge Road.
Rangers advised him against this based on his behavior and his lack of preparedness for winter alpine conditions. Starr was wearing tennis shoes, jeans or tan canvas pants, a black/blue jacket, no hat or gloves and was carrying a plastic grocery bag.
Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous paved road in the United States, with its highest point reaching 12,183 feet. Over 10 miles of the road are above 11,500 feet. Conditions on the road range from bare wind-blown asphalt to deep snow drifts.
On Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 27, park rangers on skis contacted Starr above Many Parks Curve on Trail Ridge Road. Rangers were concerned for his welfare and were attempting to assist him. Starr fled from rangers up a dry section of the road and continued to elude rangers until darkness fell.
Beginning early on Wednesday, Jan. 28, two teams of rangers attempted to locate Starr again on Trail Ridge Road. Rangers faced wind gusts of 50 to 60 miles per hour.
These high winds and blowing snow hampered following Starr’s footprints. Aerial operations were not possible due to high winds.
The entire road corridor was checked. Starr was not located.
On Thursday, Jan. 29, rangers were again attempting to locate Starr in areas around Trail Ridge Road. Aerial operations were to be used if conditions allow.
Park rangers have been assisted by a Colorado Parks and Wildlife officer with an ATV equipped with snow tracks.
Thursday’s operations were also aided by an over-snow tracked vehicle and operator from Estes Park Power and Light.
The motorized equipment was only used on Trail Ridge Road.
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