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Missing ranger’s body recovered from Horsetooth Reservoir

Miles Blumhardt
Fort Collins Coloradoan
Published 10:58 AM EDT Aug 21, 2020

The body of a Larimer County Department of Natural Resources ranger was pulled from Horsetooth Reservoir early Friday morning.

The Larimer County Sheriff’s Office said it received a report at 9:18 p.m. Thursday that a ranger was missing after strong winds struck Horsetooth Reservoir. The ranger’s boat was found on the water, but the ranger who was on boat patrol could not be found, which prompted a massive search that included boats, drones, divers and a helicopter.

The ranger’s body was recovered from the water around 3:30 a.m., according to a sheriff’s office release Friday morning. Initial reports indicated the search was focused on the area near the Rotary Park parking lot on the east shore of the reservoir, PFA said during the search. The sheriff’s office release did not say in what area of the reservoir the body was located.

The sheriff’s office is investigating the incident. Larimer County Coroner’s Office will release the ranger’s identity of the ranger as well as cause and manner of death “at the appropriate time,” according to the release.

“It is with very heavy hearts that we acknowledge the death of a Larimer County Department of Natural Resources ranger at Horsetooth Reservoir last evening. He died while on boat patrol,” Sheriff Justin Smith wrote on his Facebook page. “Our county park rangers dedicate themselves to creating a safe environment for visitors. That dedication comes with risk and last night, the community was reminded of the dangers that rangers face in fulfilling their duties.”

A procession of at least 24 law enforcement vehicles — mostly Larimer County sheriff and ranger vehicles — traveled east on Prospect Road through Fort Collins, their lights flashing and sirens silent. One of the vehicles was pulling a patrol boat.

Fort Collins and CSU police cars and Poudre Fire Authority fire trucks blocked major intersections along the way so the procession could pass.

Those involved in the search included the Larimer County

Department of Natural Resources, LCSO Emergency Services, Poudre Fire Authority, Colorado State Patrol, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Larimer County Dive Rescue Team, Larimer County Search and Rescue, Denver Police Department helicopter and LCSO deputies and investigators .

Initial coverage: Emergency crews searching Horsetooth Reservoir for missing ranger

Coloradoan content strategist Rebecca Powell contributed to this report.

Reporter Miles Blumhardt looks for stories that impact your life. Be it news, outdoors, sports — you name it, he wants to report it. Have a story idea? Contact him at or on Twitter @MilesBlumhardt. Support his work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today. 

This content was originally published here.