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Man found dead in Hermosa Creek north of Durango

Motorcyclist had been missing since Monday

La Plata County Search and Rescue found a deceased man, believed to be the 33-year-old reported missing earlier this week, in a deep ravine north of Durango.

The man was found in Hermosa Creek after a search and rescue canine alerted teams at the top of a ravine, according to a La Plata County Sheriff’s Office news release Thursday. Because of the steep terrain, the team could not identify the man. Members began recovery efforts Thursday morning.

“It’s bittersweet. The sweet part is to be able to meet your objectives and know that your team’s effort in finding a subject actually works ... and the community is so generous to make that happen,” said Ron Corkish, president of La Plata County Search and Rescue. “The bitter part is that we’ve lost another soul, another community member.”

Search and rescue crew members have been searching the Hermosa Creek drainage area for a missing Durango man since Monday.

The man was last reported to be on a dirt bike in the south Hermosa Creek area. About 30 people were involved in the search. Helicopter crews and a Colorado multi-mission aircraft, outfitted with infrared and color sensors, assisted.

Wednesday morning, search crews found a motorcycle in Jones Creek. In late afternoon, the search and rescue canine picked up the scent at the edge of some cliffs that drop about 600 feet to the river, and crews identified the body using binoculars.

Corkish theorized the man abandoned his motorcycle in Jones Creek and died while attempting to follow the creek downstream.

The La Plata County Coroner’s Office will make a final identification of the man and determine cause of death.

Recovery operations could not be conducted Wednesday because of limited daylight.

Swiftwater and technical rope rescue crews traveled down Hermosa Creek on Thursday morning to recover the body. The body will be removed from the gorge by Montrose Helitack using a 300-foot longline, Corkish said.

The Sheriff’s Office asked the public to stay clear of the area during Thursday’s recovery efforts.

smullane@durangoherald.com