RMNP Missing Hiker James Pruitt

Approximately fifty Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue Team members were involved in additional search efforts for James Pruitt on Wednesday, October 9. Pruitt was last heard from on February 28, 2019. Search efforts were concentrated in off trail areas in the Prospect Canyon drainage and the Glacier Gorge drainage above Jewel Lake. Five teams, comprised of forty searchers, conducted grid searches in areas heavily covered with thick timber, dead and down trees, thick willow, tall grass and mountain streams.

Throughout the summer, smaller teams have focused specific search efforts in other segments of the search area. The general search area has also experienced significant visitation over the last four months. Unfortunately, no clues have been found.

On March 3, 2019, search efforts began in the Glacier Gorge area of Rocky Mountain National Park for James Pruitt, 70, of Etowah, Tennessee. After a vehicle parked at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead was determined to belong to Pruitt Sunday morning, March 3, rangers contacted Pruitt’s family in Tennessee. His family confirmed he was in the area and hadn’t been heard from since Thursday morning, February 28, at approximately 10 am. They were unaware of his destination for that day.

More than two feet of snow accumulated in the Glacier Gorge area between Thursday, February 28 and Sunday, March 3. That significant snowfall in mountainous terrain added to the challenge of search efforts, making finding clues to Pruitt’s whereabouts even more difficult.

Active search efforts took place March 3 through March 9. The overall search area encompassed approximately 15 square miles and included the Glacier Gorge drainage, the Loch Vale drainage and the Glacier Creek drainage. Searchers concentrated efforts in the heavily forested areas near Bear Lake and the Glacier Gorge Trailhead, the Nymph Lake area, Chaos Creek area, the Alberta Falls area, Lake Haiyaha, Mario’s Gully east of Lake Haiyaha and the winter trails to Mills Lake and The Loch. Off snow packed trails, searchers encountered chest deep snow in numerous areas.

Assisting Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue team members has been Larimer County Search and Rescue, Rocky Mountain Rescue based in Boulder County, Diamond Peaks Ski Patrol, Douglas County Search and Rescue, Alpine Rescue Team, numerous dog teams from Larimer County Search and Rescue, Search and Rescue Dogs of the United States, and the Colorado Search and Rescue Association. On Tuesday, March 5, a multi-mission aircraft (MMA) from the State of Colorado assisted efforts with fixed-wing aerial reconnaissance over Sky Pond, Lake Haiyaha, Flattop Mountain and Bierstadt Lake.

James Pruitt is still a missing person and our investigation will continue.

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