Woman becomes sick, dies on trail to hot springs
A 20-year-old Pennsylvania woman died late Thursday or early Friday after becoming ill while hiking to Conundrum Hot Springs, an official said Friday.
The woman — identified Sunday as Susanna Deforest of Collegeville — was hiking with three friends who are all from the Pennsylvania area, said Pitkin County Sheriff’s Deputy Anthony Todaro. Two of the friends now live in Dillon and the third attends the School of Mines in Golden, he said.
The four spent two days hanging out in Dillon before setting out Thursday afternoon on the Conundrum Creek Trail for the popular hot springs, an 8.5-mile hike from the Castle Creek Valley that gains about 2,500 feet of elevation. Conundrum Hot Springs are located at 11,222 feet.
Todaro said the foursome left a bit late in the afternoon, but had the proper gear, water and food and were prepared to spend the night at the hot springs and hike out the next day. However, during the hike up, the 20-year-old woman became nauseated and began vomiting, so they set up a tent, put her inside and tried to make her comfortable, he said.
In the meantime, two of the women hiked out to get help, leaving the third with the woman who was ill, Todaro said. The two women left the other two about 8:30 p.m. and were able to notify emergency dispatchers about 10:45 p.m., according to Todaro and a sheriff’s office statement.
Volunteers with Mountain Rescue Aspen were dispatched into the field and a helicopter was dispatched to pick up the ill woman, he said. But when the helicopter arrived in the area it wasn’t able to land, which may have been because of weather issues, Todaro said.
By the time another helicopter returned just before 5 a.m., the woman was dead, he said.
It was not clear Friday afternoon what time the aborted landing occurred or the exact reasons for it. Todaro also did not know if the woman was alive at that point or not.
The woman’s body was taken out of the wilderness by about 7 a.m., he said.
The woman had no known previous medical issues, so her cause of death was not clear Friday, Todaro said.
Pitkin County Deputy Coroner Eric Hansen said the cause of death likely won’t be known until an autopsy is performed.
The woman’s name likely won’t be released until this morning, he said, pending notification of her relatives.
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Garfield County expects to receive $226,979 in National Forest Reserve payments for the year 2020 — money this year that will go to local public schools and emergency management services.