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Missing at-risk man found deceased under snow near his camp in Summit County

Posted at 8:07 PM, Feb 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-02 22:07:04-05

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. — A missing at-risk man was found deceased under snow near his camp, the Summit County Sheriff's Office announced Friday.

Deputies responded to a welfare check on Montezuma Road, east of Keystone, around 9:45 a.m. on Jan. 25. A mother said she hadn't heard from her son, Scott Walling, since Jan. 16 and was worried.

Authorities learned Walling was known to camp in and around Summit County since 2015. He was also experiencing "increased challenges with mental health and medical concerns," the sheriff's office said.

In early January, a Summit County church gave Walling a tent, sleeping bag and tarp, according to the sheriff's office. A church member then drove him to an area on Montezuma Road, where he set up camp. Walling returned to the church in mid-January and was given a blanket, the sheriff's office learned.

Walling's mother tracked her son's debit card purchases through Jan. 16. She had intermittent contact with her son via emails, phone calls and text messages through Jan. 16, the sheriff's office said.

Deputies determined that Walling was a missing at-risk adult and entered his information into local, state and national databases. The sheriff's office said drone searches were conducted of areas where Walling was known to camp.

During a ground search with the Summit County Rescue Group on Friday, authorities found Walling deceased under the surface of snow near his camp. The sheriff's office said recent warm weather melted the snowpack, allowing deputies to find Walling.

Walling was positively identified by his family.

"I regret to inform our community that, with heavy hearts, we have located the missing individual, Scott Walling, deceased. Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends during this difficult time. Our dedicated teams worked tirelessly to bring closure, and we ask for the community's continued support and respect for the privacy of the grieving loved ones. This is another case where the entire community assisted us, and for that we are so grateful," said Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons in a statement.

The case has been turned over to the Summit County Coroner's Office. The sheriff's office said there were no obvious signs of foul play.

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