Authorities identify hiker killed in fall

Va. student, 18, found in Chicago Basin

Authorities on Wednesday identified the victim of Tuesday’s fatal fall in the Weminuche Wilderness as 18-year-old Caitlin Kremp, a student at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Kremp was among a group of nine students, mostly from VCU, along with a leader, who were part of a trip sponsored by the Outdoor Adventure Program at the college, according to a statement posted on the university’s website.

Kremp fell about 100 feet from a rock outcrop near the group’s campsite, said investigators with the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office.

Kremp landed face-down in a stream and died from drowning, according to a medical examiner.

Durango’s 911 dispatch center received notification of a distress call from a GPS locator beacon at 8:03 a.m. Tuesday.

Rescue workers pinpointed the location of the signal to a steep canyon wall in the Chicago Basin of the Weminuche Wilderness, about 27 miles north of Durango.

A medical helicopter was dispatched with two members from La Plata County’s Search and Rescue.

“We had no information as to the situation other than there being an emergency at a particular location,” said Butch Knowlton, director of the county’s Department of Emergency Preparedness, in a news release.

The aircraft landed near the scene. Upon arrival, the group that triggered the 911 beacon informed rescue workers of the death.

Rescue workers recovered the body and brought it back to Durango.

Members from the Fort Lewis College Outdoor Pursuits program helped the remaining group members exit the Wilderness area on Wednesday.

Kremp’s death is the second fatality this summer in the Chicago Basin. Martin Pigeon fell about 230 feet July 7, near the top of Windom Peak, one of three Fourteeners that make up the upper portion of the basin.

GPS-enabled locator beacons are becoming more widely popular among outdoor enthusiasts.

When used for severe accidents and life-threatening situations, they provide exact locations and help reduce response times for emergency responders, according to a news release issued Wednesday by La Plata County.

The county’s Office of Emergency Preparedness reminds backcountry users to be prepared, carry a capable communications device and participate in the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue program, which helps reimburse county sheriff’s offices for search-and-rescue missions.

Kremp of Hampton, Va., was about to begin her sophomore year at VCU. She was majoring in business and was on VCU’s Dean’s list, according to the college.

An obituary provided to The DurangoHerald from Kremp’s family said Kremp died doing what she loved, “hiking in the mountains of Colorado at sunrise.”

shane@durangoherald.com

An earlier version of this story reported that Kremp fell 200 feet and died instantly. Incorrect information was given to the Herald.

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