The La Plata County Coroner’s Office has identified a man who went missing earlier this month before being found dead in Hermosa Creek as Cory Ireland of Durango.
Ireland, 33, was found after a three-day search by La Plata County Search and Rescue in the drainage north of Durango.
The official cause of death is drowning, said Coroner Jann Smith. The death was declared an accident. The Coroner’s Office is awaiting a toxicology report, which would provide additional information but will not change the cause of death determination, she said.
Ireland was reported missing May 10. About 30 people were involved in the search, including helicopter crews and a Colorado multi-mission aircraft.
Two days later, rescue teams found a dirt bike, believed to belong to Ireland, in Jones Creek, a tributary of Hermosa Creek. A search and a rescue canine detected a scent of Ireland’s remains downstream in Hermosa Creek, near the bottom of a ravine. His body was recovered by swiftwater and technical rope rescue crews May 13.
Ireland, a father of three, worked at Purgatory Resort since graduating from Durango High School in 2005. He worked in a variety of roles, including starting out as the resort mascot, the Beaver; a youth ski instructor; and a ski and snowboard technician, according to a GoFundMe page organized by his family.
Aside from teaching kids to ski, Ireland also worked at Father’s Daughters Pizza, James Ranch and Flexible Flyers Rafting as a rafting guide.
The fundraiser raised $15,065 as of Monday to support Ireland’s family. The family thanked La Plata County Search and Rescue for its diligence and effort to bring Ireland home.
“He felt most free while dirt biking. It was his chance to relieve stress, mess around and have fun, and get time with his friends,” according to the GoFundMe page. “Cory lived his life to the fullest with great friends, a loving family and passion for the outdoors, and his final resting place could not be more reflective of this desire.”
Grief and counseling services are available through community resources such as the Grief Center of Southwest Colorado at 764-7142, the Axis Health System hotline at 247-5245 and Colorado Crisis Services at (844) 493-8255.