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Regional Roundup

Brief by Martha Quillen

Local news – October 2004 – Colorado Central Magazine

Missing Persons

Missing persons have made the news in several local papers recently.

James Rowe, 26, of Crestone disappeared on July 30th after visiting friends. According to a Mountain Mail story, Rowe had indicated that he was going to a hot springs, but his jeep was subsequently found abandoned about twenty miles north of Crestone.

Friends said Rowe was acting “scattered and ungrounded” right before his departure. When the newspaper contacted Rowe’s mother in Virginia she said he’d never been out of touch with her before or done anything like this.

Several people in Chaffee County have reported seeing a man who matched Rowe’s description, but thus far, no leads have panned out. For more than a month, friends, family, Search and Rescue, and the Saguache County Sheriff’s department have been searching for Rowe, but he was still missing at our deadline on September 6. Anyone with information should call Saguache County Sheriff Mike Norris, 719-655-2544.

The September 9th Gunnison Country Times reported the disappearance of Hank (Harold) Young, a popular employee at Ace Hardware, and the authorities feared that Young may have been contemplating suicide.

Young was reported missing on August 31 by Robert Bell, a close friend who couldn’t find Young or Young’s truck at home or at work. Young drives a white 4×4 pickup with an extra tall camper, and was last seen by a neighbor at the Mountain Air Apartments in Gunnison on August 29 when Young put some items in his truck then pulled out of the parking lot.

On September 6th, a neighbor reported hearing someone in the vicinity of Young’s apartment early in the morning, and later that day Young’s friend Bell found a letter from Young along with a set of keys to his friend’s apartment affixed to his front door. Bell immediately called the police, who say Young also left a letter with another friend who wanted to remain anonymous.

Young had been suffering from serious medical problems recently and was still missing when we went to press. Anyone with information should contact the Gunnison Police at 970-641-8000 or the Gunnison County Sheriff, 970-641-1113.

On July 30, Jason Pettigrew, a Denver architect, was found dead by rescue workers. The 29-year-old climber had planned to go up Crestone Needle, Crestone Peak, and Kit Carson, but fell, probably due to adverse weather and slippery terrain.

According to the story in the September 1 Crestone Eagle, bad weather also beleaguered searchers. The authorities were notified that Pettigrew was missing on Tuesday, but had to discontinue their rescue efforts because of poor visibility and slippery rock on Wednesday. With the help of trail registers, which showed that Pettigrew had probably not summitted Crestone Needle, rescue workers found Pettigrew’s body below the traverse between Crestone Peak and Crestone Needle on Friday, but once again they had to suspend recovery efforts due to extremely dangerous conditions.

On Saturday, huge rocks were plunging down the steep terrain and rescue workers had to duck under a ledge to avoid a pickup-sized boulder, but their efforts were successful. During the 5-day search, one rescue worker suffered a broken wrist; one had rib injuries; and two workers sustained scrapes and bruises when they slipped on the rain-slicked rocks.

Another missing person’s story had a happier ending. Donald Gregory Hunt, 55, of Crested Butte was presumed missing after his backpack was found by hikers about 200 feet from the summit of Mt. Princeton on August 25th.

According to the Crested Butte Chronicle and Pilot, Hunt took a break and had some water, then left his pack behind to hike the last couple of hundred feet to the summit of Princeton, thinking that his bright yellow backpack would be easy to spot. But then Hunt couldn’t find the pack again, and he decided to descend without it.

Apparently Hunt had gotten turned around, though, and he ended up spending Wednesday night under a rock outcropping. On Thursday evening, Hunt was still lost, so he built a shelter out of branches.

In the meantime, authorities had found Hunt’s wallet in his backpack, and they had confirmed that Hunt had not returned home, so Chaffee County, Park County, and Western State College Search and Rescue members were out searching for him.

Hunt was finally found by the Western State College Mountain Rescue team at about 11 p.m. Thursday evening in very difficult terrain in Cascade Canyon. He was wearing fleece pants and a jacket, and had no injuries, but he was tired and hungry.

Murder in Frémont County

Kenneth Myers, a 48-year-old Cotopaxi man, was arrested in connection with the shooting death of Ralph Weaver, 49, of rural Cañon City. A neighbor called authorities to say he’d heard a shot at 1:25 p.m., Monday, August 9, and Meyers was arrested at about 2 p.m.

BV Graduate Jumps for Joy

Matt Hemingway, a 1991 graduate of Buena Vista High School, jumped 7 feet 7.25 inches in Athens and earned a silver medal in the 2004 Olympic high jump competition. Hemingway, 31, now lives in Littleton, Colorado.

Stefan Holm of Sweden jumped 7’8″ for the gold.

Iron City Restoration

Recently, the 100-year-old two-story cabin at the Iron City campground near St. Elmo has been spruced up by the U.S. Forest Service with help from a group of restoration experts and a grant by the Colorado State Historical Society.

According to the Mountain Mail the cabin was almost demolished in the 1970s when the local ranger realized how much repair it would need, but a group of citizens banded together and petitioned the Forest Service to save it.

Now, the Forest Service is once again fixing the exterior, by replacing the roof; reinforcing the foundation; repairing the chimney, the front porch, and water damaged boards; treating and rechinking the logs; and cleaning and repainting the trim. Future plans include applying for a grant to restore the interior, too.

Big Kitties

In Custer County the local DOW officer got a report that there was an ocelot on the loose, but as it turned out the caller was wrong. Tourist Rick Morrison took pictures of the animal, and the cat did look bigger than most. But it wasn’t an ocelot; it was a African Serval/domestic cat mix called a Savannah.

After hearing about the report, Westcliffe resident Shirley Lloyd called the DOW to say that she suspected the pictured cat was hers. Lloyd has six exotic cats, including two Savannahs, Roy and Mirna, which had been missing for two weeks. The cats are 75 percent Serval and 25 percent domestic. According to the Wet Mountain Tribune, Savannah males weigh between 30 and 40 pounds, and females average 25 pounds.

The cats had fled Lloyd’s house when a door blew open during a thunderstorm, and she had been looking for them ever since. Lloyd says the cats don’t have a homing instinct, but will come when she calls them. She warned strangers not to approach them, though, because they might scratch. Lloyd also has two Maine Coon cats, two hybrid jungle cats, and seven less exotic pets.

Impatient Patients

The Colorado State Board of Medical Examiners are investigating Dr. Wayne Callen of Leadville, but the state board will not disclose who made the complaints or what they were. In the meantime, patients can continue to go to Callen, but he can’t admit them to any hospital nor see patients in the emergency room at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Leadville.

Most of Callen’s patients seem loyal to him, and many have expressed anger about the proceedings, but they can’t effectively support their doctor, since they have no idea what he’s being accused of. Perhaps for that reason, patients have tended to blame the local hospital for Callen’s problems. But the hospital board denies having anything to do with initiating an investigation.

St. Vincent’s board has submitted a letter supporting Callen, and members say that they just have to sit back and wait for the State Board’s decision, too.

Feeding Frenzy

It’s that time of year again. From September until early November black bears will be fattening up for hibernation, and therefore the state DOW asks that rural residents steadfastly avoid leaving food, trash, and other attractants out where bears can locate them. Experts warn that once bears know there’s food in a place, they’ll return.

In August, the DOW reported that the “coffee creamer cubs” near Fairplay had been breaking into buildings and damaging cabinets and refrigerators to get their favorite treat, non-dairy coffee creamer.

“There is a continued feeling by some that it is not a big deal if a bear gets my bird feeder or trash once in a while, but we know that the cumulative effect to the bear is a death sentence,” said Wildlife Manager Mark Lamb.

Animal Attack

A pit bull in Buena Vista’s Columbine Park attacked a poodle on a leash on August 29. According to the Chaffee County Times, Police Chief Jim Tidwell said Sharon Lee Ramey was walking her poodle, Lulu, when the pit bull suddenly attacked.

At that point, Bruce Allen Buneta, the owner of the pit bull and a boxer, tried to help, by holding the pit bull’s jaws apart while Ramey tugged on her poodle, but then Buneta’s boxer attacked the poodle, too.

Ramey shouted for help and several other young men came over and they all somehow managed to free Lulu, but by then the dog was spitting up blood. Ramey fetched sheriff’s deputy Marty Johnson, whom she saw at a nearby gas station, and he transported her to the Buena Vista Veterinary Clinic.

Tidwell talked to Buneta at the park and filled out a police report.

Buneta had been bitten, and Ramey had bruises and scratches. Lulu, the poodle, had broken neck bones, nerve damage and was having difficulty breathing and swallowing. Veterinarian Gregory Kettering performed surgery the next day; if the dog recovers it will take weeks and cost $500 to $600.