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Body discovered in San Juan Mountains presumed to be missing Denver hiker

Posted at 11:33 AM, Oct 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-07 13:33:07-04

LAKE CITY, Colo. — A body matching the description of a missing Denver hiker was discovered by a helicopter Tuesday evening.

Hinsdale County officials said the hiker, Ben Brownlee, 26, was reported missing Sunday after being overdue from a solo hiking trip. Brownlee was an experienced and avid hiker with plans to hike 13,000 foot peaks in the Lake City area of the San Juan Mountains.

The Hinsdale County Sheriff Department began searching for Brownlee early Monday morning. They located his car at the trailhead of Redcloud and Sunshine Peak. The search resumed Tuesday with more than a dozen search and rescue personnel along with friends and family of Brownlee. A private helicopter chartered by the family discovered a body Tuesday around 5 p.m.

Friends identified the body as Brownlee approximately 75 to 100 feet below a steep rocky ridge southeast of Cooper Creek Peak. The ridge runs between Cooper Creek Trail and Silver Creek Trail off of County Rd 30, southwest of Lake City along the Alpine Loop.

Recovery of Brownlee's body began Wednesday morning and will require specialized technical operations to reach and retrieve the body. Brownlee's family has been notified.