2nd climber this year killed by rock slide on El Diente Peak in SW Colorado
The Denver Post
For the second time this year, a hiker has been killed by a rock slide on El Diente Peak in southwestern Colorado.
John Arthur Merrill, 30, was killed by falling rocks shortly after noon Sunday while hiking with his dog on the fourteener’s south face.
In July, a hiker was killed by a slide while traversing El Diente Peak and Mount Wilson.
“Another hiking party witnessed the accident and ran to him, but he was already dead,” Robert Dempsey, the San Miguel County coroner, said of Merrill.
A helicopter flew to the remote site, at about 13,500 feet, on Monday and removed the body. The helicopter was later forced to make an emergency landing while removing rescue volunteers, but there were no injuries or serious damage to the helicopter.
Dempsey said Merrill had called his pregnant wife and told her he was about an hour from the summit.
Merrill had been hiking with his dog, Oof, an Alaskan malamute mix, who survived the slide. The dog refused to leave Merrill’s side and was rescued from the mountain Monday after staying the night, Dempsey said.
San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters told the Telluride Watch newspaper that Merrill’s wife directed that the dog be taken to the pound in Cortez but that the search-and-rescue team plans to find the dog a new home.
One of the rescuers has reportedly offered to adopt Oof.
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