ALAMOSA, Colorado — A Seguin man was identified as the hiker who fell to his death on the morning of Friday, July 29 on Mount Blanca.
Alamosa Volunteer Search and Rescue teams recovered the body of a male in his 20’s who fell from Mount Blanca around 11 a.m on Friday. Alamosa County Sheriff Robert Jackson said witnesses heard rocks sliding and then saw the body of a hiker who had fallen.
The hiker was later identified as Barney F. Cruz, IV, 27, of Seguin.
The fatality occurred between Mount Blanca Peak and Lake Como, maybe a little higher than Crater Lake, according to Jackson.
Search and rescue teams, under the coordination of Suzi Hopper, recovered Cruz’s body Friday night and were in the process of returning down the mountain.
At that point recovery team members had made it almost to Lake Como where they planned to call on-call Alamosa County Deputy Coroner Harry Alejo who would go to meet the team.
“It takes an hour and a half in the dark to get down the mountain,” Sheriff Jackson said.
Jackson said two search and rescue teams were airlifted by helicopter onto the mountain Friday to the scene. Rainy weather was causing some issues with the recovery efforts, he added.
Search and rescue teams employed a rock crawler, a truck able to navigate the rocky terrain, in their efforts to recover the body and return down the mountain. Since the truck could not bring the entire team down at once, it would probably have to make more than one trip, Jackson said.
“There are at least nine people up there, probably more, and the rock crawler can only take three to four at a time,” he said.
Additionally, Jackson said search and rescue volunteers were prepared to spend the night on the mountain if they had to, but they were hoping not to.
Apparently Cruz was hiking with no identification on him, and with no one yet reported missing, law enforcement and the coroner had to use creative methods to identify him.
Alamosa County Coroner Kevin Rogers said several means were used … including dental and fingerprint records.
At the same time, the El Paso County Coroner’s Office conducted an autopsy. The results have not yet been released.
No criminal or suspicious activity is suspected in connection with Cruz’s death, Sheriff Jackson said.
“We don’t believe there’s anything criminal in nature,” Jackson said.
Cruz was the 2007 Navarro High School valedictorian. He later graduated from Rice University with a Bachelors of Science in Chemical engineering, and attended Stanford University for his post-graduated education.
The Seguin Gazette contributed to this story.