Chesterton Tribune



Dr. James McGrogan found dead in Colorado Rockies

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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 before deadline.

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 unknown.

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 had.

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 scene.

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.


Posted 4/4/2014




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