The search for a missing Louisiana woman who was swept away in a high-alpine mountain stream outside Silverton more than a month ago came to an end last week.
Authorities announced late Tuesday that the body of Tessie Strickland, 64, was found July 25 along the banks of the Rio Grande River in Hinsdale County, about 4 miles downstream of where Pole Creek empties into the Rio Grande.
The body was taken to the morgue at Montrose Memorial Hospital for identification and was positively identified as Strickland late Tuesday, Hinsdale County officials announced in a news release.
Next of kin has been notified.
“This has been a sad, tragic situation,” said Hinsdale County Sheriff Justin Casey. “Our hearts break for the family as they work to bring closure to a loved wife and mother.”
Tessie Strickland, 64, and her husband, Tommy, were traveling June 27 from Creede to Silverton on a route known as Stony Pass, which is mostly used by off-road vehicles, when the couple’s Jeep lost power while crossing Pole Creek, a tributary of the Rio Grande that was flowing higher than normal.
As the Jeep was being taken downstream and starting to fill with water, the couple climbed onto the roof of the vehicle and tried to swim to the bank, Tommy Strickland later told authorities.
Tommy Strickland was able to make it to shore. He told authorities he was trying to help his wife up the bank when she was swept under the icy water. She was then taken downstream and disappeared.
Stony Pass is a popular high-alpine route that requires crossing Pole Creek. The couple left from Silverton to Creede in the morning and crossed the creek when the water level was low. When they returned later in the day to get back to Silverton, the creek had risen from the day’s snowmelt.
Tommy Strickland was able to find passersby who took him to Silverton where he alerted authorities around 8:30 p.m., which immediately set off search and rescue operations.
Extensive search operations lasted more than a month to locate Tessie Strickland, including more than 25 personnel from Hinsdale, Mineral and San Juan counties. Helicopters, drones and search dogs were all used in the effort.
The couple are from Kentwood, Louisiana, a small town about a 1½-hour drive north of New Orleans.
Another missing person who was swept away in a river in Southwest Colorado was also found recently.
Mineral County Sheriff’s Office announced earlier this week that around 10 a.m. Saturday, the body of Zack Jones, 33, was recovered from the Rio Grande River, north of Monte Vista.
Authorities say Jones was rafting the Rio Grande River on June 27 when his raft overturned.