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Search continues for hiker missing in San Juan National Forest

Friend reported man as overdue on Thursday
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Posted at 11:55 AM, Jul 25, 2022

SAN JUAN COUNTY, Colo. — Search and rescue teams in San Juan County are continuing to search for a Utah man who was reported missing on Thursday after being overdue from a hike in the San Juan National Forest.

On Thursday, a friend of 22-year-old Daniel Lamthach, of Salt Lake City, reported he was overdue from a hike in the Trinity Peaks area near the Weminuche Wilderness, according to the San Juan County Office of Emergency Management. Lamthach had last been heard from on July 16, and officials said he seemed lightly prepared for a day hike and unprepared for a long period of time in the wilderness, based on what was inside his vehicle that was found in the Molas Lake Parking area. Hikers also found Lamthach’s phone on the Elk Creek Trail heading towards the Trinity Peaks area on July 18.

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The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office and San Juan County Search and Rescue began a search just before 6 p.m. that night. The search was suspended when it got too dark, officials said.

Ground and aerial crews have been out over the last few days as the search continues. On Monday, a chopper team was dropping off a search and rescue ground team to continue gathering clues and narrowing down target areas, according to search officials.

The plan was for search crews to stay overnight in the wilderness and continue search operations on Tuesday.

Melissa Flynn with Silverton Medical Rescue said the situation is an important reminder to always be prepared when traveling in the backcountry, especially alone.

“Make sure you have proper gear to stay overnight, carry devices to call for help such as a Garmin InReach or SPOT device and, most importantly, communicate your route/trip plan as well as expected return time with someone,” Flynn said. “Even if you are planning to go on a simple day hike or run and you are a very experienced mountain adventurer, these mountains are rugged and unpredictable. The more we know, the more we can help.”

Officials also reminded the community to leave the searching to the local teams, as independent searches can cause more harm than good.