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La Plata County man goes missing while hunting; rescued four days later

Lech Usinowicz, Be FRANK Foundation director, undergoing treatment for serious injuries
Lech Usinowicz, director of the Be FRANK Foundation, was rescued Sunday after being injured during a hunting trip in La Plata County. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

Lech Usinowicz, executive director of the Be FRANK Foundation, is receiving care at a Colorado Springs hospital for injuries suffered during a hunting trip last week.

Usinowicz was reported missing the evening of Sept. 1 after leaving to hunt elk near the Forest Lakes subdivision north of Bayfield in La Plata County. He was found Sunday, according to Karl Herr with the Be FRANK Foundation.

Further details about the search and rescue effort or the extent of Usinowicz’s injuries were not available Thursday. La Plata County Search and Rescue referred questions to the Sheriff’s Office.

The Sheriff’s Office said 17 people joined the search party led by Search and Rescue. A family-led search party found Usinowicz in the Forest Lakes area.

“A total of 170 hours of manpower went into the search on Friday and Saturday night,” said Sheriff's Office spokesman Chris Burke. “They searched the area with the highest probability of detecting the victim, and the victim was found.”

Beyond that, the Sheriff’s Office referred questions back to Search and Rescue.

Usinowicz was receiving care at Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs as of Wednesday. He suffered serious injuries from the incident and spent time in the intensive-care unit, Herr said.

“They’ve done several procedures that have helped to fix some of the issues. Some of the initial concerns have been eliminated as ongoing issues, so that’s good news,” Herr said. “He’s definitely got a long road ahead of him to recover.”

Herr did not learn Usinowicz was missing until Friday. The days before his rescue on Sunday were an “emotional roller coaster,” he said.

“You would be hopeful, knowing that Lech has been an outdoors, healthy, fit individual ... but then just not knowing what the circumstances were,” he said.

A tremendous number of community members and former students arrived to help with the search, he said.

“It often happens with a dearly loved community member – people reach out and want to do what they can. That was pretty amazing,” Herr said.

Usinowicz directed the San Juan Youth Symphony. He founded the Be FRANK Foundation, which provides youth orchestra and percussion programs, and teaches orchestra in the Bayfield School District.

He has impacted hundreds of students’ lives after joining Bayfield schools in the mid-2000s, Herr said.

Just through the Be FRANK Foundation, Usinowicz worked with an average of 225 students per year in Durango and Bayfield, he said.

“The intent of Lech and Be FRANK is not that every kid becomes a professional musician. It’s the traits and skills you can learn from a music program. That’s really where his impact is,” Herr said. “When something like this happens, you start to hear from people. You start to get a sense of his impact when former students come out of the woodwork.”

Christy Muir, a friend of Usinowicz, set up a GoFundMe fundraiser to help pay for medical bills. As of Thursday, 126 donors gave $18,650 toward the $150,000 goal.

smullane@durangoherald.com

This story has been updated to clarify Lech Usinowicz’s role in the San Juan Youth Orchestra and that a family-led search party found him. Incorrect information was given to the Herald.

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