Deadly plunge of man in canyon ruled accidental

The death of a 53-year-old Hotchkiss man who fell about 150 feet off a canyon overlook Saturday night has been ruled accidental, according to Delta County Coroner Chalmer Swain.

Search and rescue workers late Saturday night recovered the body of Michael Soltvedt, who fell into the Smith Fork Canyon in the Hotchkiss area.

Soltvedt had been driving around with his friend, Alan Degrange, when Soltvedt stopped at the canyon to look over the edge, Delta County Sheriff Fred McKee said. Degrange told police he waited for his friend to return to the vehicle, but the man never did.

McKee said there was no indication of foul play or reason to believe the incident was suicide.

“I guess we’ll never really know what happened,” McKee said.

The side of the roadway is treacherous in that area, although there is a short walk to to the canyon edge. The edge is not visible from the roadway in that spot, McKee said.

Soltvedt fell into the canyon around 5 p.m. Emergency workers were called around 5:30 p.m. and recovered the man’s body from the canyon floor by about 11 p.m., McKee said.

The canyon is between Crawford and Hotchkiss along Colorado Highway 92 near the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.


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