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Search underway for Durango man missing near Blanca Peak

Vaughn Fetzer, a nurse at Mercy Regional Medical Center, missing since at least Sunday
Vaughn Fetzer of Durango was reported missing Monday in the area of Blanca Peak. Several search and rescue teams conducted their second full search Wednesday. (Courtesy of Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office)

Search and rescue teams are looking for a Durango man who has been missing since at least Sunday in the area of Blanca Peak, the fourth highest summit in Colorado, located east of Alamosa.

Vaughn Fetzer, who works as a nurse at Mercy Regional Medical Center, was supposed to meet friends Sunday in Tres Piedres, New Mexico, but never arrived, said Alamosa County Undersheriff Shawn Woods on Wednesday.

“ We believe he was on Blanca Peak on Saturday evening,” said Woods, who also serves as a spokesman for Alamosa Volunteer Search & Rescue.

Vaughn Fetzer was reported missing Monday in the area of Blanca Peak. He was expected to meet with friends Sunday in Tres Piedres, N.M., but never arrived. (Courtesy of Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office)

Woods described Fetzer as 6 feet tall, 180 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. Search teams found Fetzer’s vehicle parked at the trailhead of Lily Lake, near the 14,351-foot-tall Blanca Peak, Woods said.

The search that unfolded Tuesday involved Alamosa, Costilla and Huerfano counties and covered the general area of Mount Blanca and Blanca Peak. A search team from Westcliffe in Custer County also joined the search Tuesday.

A helicopter belonging to the state Department of Fire Prevention and Control is also assisting the counties in the search by taking teams up Mount Blanca and dropping them off, saving time that would otherwise be spent hiking up the mountainous terrain.

“They are also doing some air search,” Woods said.

Woods said the teams left the area by 3 or 4 p.m. Tuesday “because yesterday was a two-hour hike just to get to the vehicles they took up to Como Lake, and then it’s another half-hour drive down.”

About 15 people assisted in Tuesday’s search and rescue operation.

“Then today (Wednesday), we don’t have Custer County; they have another obligation,” Woods said. “But we do have some western search and rescue people out of Gunnison today. We are actively searching today and we do have teams up there today. The teams we have today are all technical climbers, which have the ability to use ropes and riggings and that kind of thing to check some really rigorous terrain. It’s not just walking, they’re actually using ropes and a rigging.”

Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Fetzer is asked to call Alamosa Sheriff’s Office at (719) 589-6608, Crystal Wilson with search and rescue at (773) 456-2927 or Colorado State Patrol dispatch at (719) 589-5807.


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