Search efforts underway for missing man in Rocky Mountain National Park
March 5, 2019
Search efforts continued in Rocky Mountain National Park this week for a 70-year-old Tennessee man who reportedly went missing in the park at the end of February, according to park officials.
The family of James Pruitt of Etowah, Tennessee, confirmed that the man was in the Glacier Gorge area, located in the middle of the park to the east of the Continental Divide, and hadn’t been heard from since about 10 a.m. Feb. 28.
His vehicle was found March 3 parked at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead, at an elevation of 9,240 feet. At that point, rangers contacted his family.
Pruitt arrived to the area on Feb. 22, according to his family, and it was his third winter visit to the park over the past three years.
Searchers on Monday focused their efforts in the Glacier Gorge drainage, the Loch Vale drainage and the Glacier Creek drainage, according to park officials. The search area included sections of the Glacier Gorge Trail, the North Longs Peak Trail, the Boulder Brook Trail to the Storm Pass Trailhead as well as the drainage east of the Alberta Falls Trail.
Teams also searched extensively in the Bear Lake area including the Nymph Lake area, the Dream Lake area and further to Lake Haiyaha and the Loch/Mills Junction.
The Glacier Creek Trail was also searched from the Glacier Gorge Trailhead and included terrain to Bear Lake Road. Approximately 40 people were involved in Monday’s operations, including 29 people in the field.
Assisting Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue Team members included Larimer County Search and Rescue, Rocky Mountain Rescue Group, a dog team from LCSAR and the Colorado Search and Rescue Board.
Almost two feet of snow has accumulated in the Glacier Gorge area since the day Pruitt went missing. According to officials, the recent snowfall in the mountainous terrain make finding clues to the man’s whereabouts even more difficult.
Pruitt may be wearing a blue jacket, red or orange hat and microspikes on his hiking boots.
Park rangers are asking anybody that was in the Glacier Gorge and Bear Lake areas since Feb. 28, or who may have had contact with Pruitt regarding his planned route, call Rocky Mountain National Park at (970) 586-1204.
Pruitt’s disappearance marks the first this year in the park, but the third since October 2018.
Twenty-year-old Micah Tice, a U.S. Air Force cadet candidate, was last seen in the park Nov. 24 in the Longs Peak area. And Ryan Albert, a 30-year-old man from New Jersey, was reported missing by a family member Oct. 5, who had last seen him leaving the previous day for Longs Peak.
Vast search efforts for both men have turned up little to no evidence since their disappearance.