A body found on Thursday in the Colorado Rocky Mountains was identified this
morning as Dr. James C. McGrogan’s, the Associated Press reported just
McGrogan, a Chesterton native, went missing on March 14 while hiking with
friends north of Vail.
Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis made the identification this morning. An
autopsy has yet to be conducted to determine cause of death.
McGrogan was a 1993 graduate of Chesterton High School and an emergency
medicine physician with the St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Mishawaka.
According to the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office (ECSO), around 1 p.m. on
Thursday three skiers found the remains of a deceased male in an ice fall
below Booth Falls, about four and a half miles from the Eiseman trail, on
which McGrogan and his party were hiking last month.
ECSO spokesperson Jessie Mosher declined to speculate today on how McGrogan
may have reached that location, in an ice fall at the bottom of a cliff,
nearly five miles from the Eiseman trail. There were no signs of avalanche
in that area, she told the Chesterton Tribune. Mosher did say that,
at some point on March 14, McGrogan clearly left the Eiseman trail, although
how or why or under what circumstances he might have done so remains
Around 8:30 a.m. Friday, March 14, McGrogan and three friends began the
approximately seven-mile hike to the Eiseman hut, a cabin facility. At 10
a.m. McGrogan’s friends decided to take a break along the trail but McGrogan
pressed ahead. At 5 p.m. the three arrived at their destination, the Eiseman
hut, but there was no sign of McGrogan.
Mosher has estimated that a distance of five miles separates the Eiseman hut
from the point along the trail where the three took their break. The trail
itself is “well-marked,” “snow-packed,” and frequently traveled but it’s
also rugged. Mosher was unable to say how long McGrogan’s friends rested
before continuing their hike or how far a head start McGrogan might have
McGrogan was carrying a large pack with food, water, and other basic
supplies, including an avalanche beacon, which, however, appears not to have
been activated, Mosher said. In any case, no communication was ever received
from it. Mosher was unable to say whether the pack itself was found at the
Most areas of the Colorado Rockies saw clear skies on March 14, Mosher
added, although visibility can change rapidly depending on altitude and
other factors. She did not know what visibility was like along the Eiseman
trail that day.
A five-day search-and-rescue operation was subsequently launched, more than
100 trained personnel--and two helicopters--participated, but foul weather
on Tuesday, March 18, prompted authorities to end the operation.
Both aviation and ground crews did specifically search the Booth Falls area
during the rescue effort, the ECSO said on Thursday.
The ECSO, the Vail Police Department, and the Vail Mountain Rescue Group
collaborated in Thursday’s investigation.