Helicopter used to find missing man in Flat Tops

A helicopter was used Saturday to rescue a man who had disappeared the day before in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area in northeast Garfield County.

Thad Green Childs III, 33, of Copper Mountain was spotted about 5 p.m. Saturday after hiking in the area known as the Devil’s Causeway, a knife-edge ridge. He was tired but not injured and was flown back to his camp in good health, the Garfield County Sheriff’s
Office said in a news release.

Childs had left a five-person group at Stillwater Reservoir around 12:30 p.m. Friday, saying he planned to hike above the camp.

Authorities were contacted around 7 a.m. Saturday and Garfield County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue arrived at Stillwater Reservoir around 11:30 a.m. Due to the area’s remoteness, Routt County Search and Rescue also responded.

The area has heavy snowpack in higher terrain, and searchers found tracks heading toward the ridgeline. DBS Helicopters, based in Rifle, arrived around 1 p.m. and tracks on the ridgeline were spotted from the air.

Search teams were flown to the higher terrain and found more tracks, but no other sign of Childs. A ground searcher who had been picked up by the helicopter then spotted Childs, and the helicopter landed to confirm it was Childs.

Childs was found just before search operations were to have been suspended for the day, the sheriff’s office said.

Sheriff’s officials are urging backcountry visitors to exercise extra caution due to lingering snowpack this spring in the high country.


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