Rifle teen dies in Flat Tops fall

Ryan Summerlin

A 17-year-old boy from Rifle died after falling from a cliff near Meadow Lake, north of New Castle, on Sunday.

The Garfield County coroner on Monday evening identified the teenager as Zachary Collett.

The young man was reportedly with his girlfriend and another male on a four-wheel-drive road where they had been camping. Collett fell about 150 feet from a slope and a cliff overlooking Blair Lake, about two miles north of Cow Lake. He fell while trying to push a log off a slope, according to a report from the coroner. Emergency responders received reports that his friends couldn’t reach the boy and he was not moving.

Search and rescue was dispatched to the Meadow Lake area, in the Flat Tops north of New Castle, at about 1 p.m.

Rescuers reached the location, near the Garfield and Rio Blanco county line, by 4 p.m. and reached the body by 5:30 p.m.

The recovery included assistance from a Classic Air Medical helicopter from Glenwood Springs, teaming with personnel from Colorado River Fire Rescue and Garfield County Search and Rescue.

Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, Rio Blanco Sheriff’s Office and Rio Blanco County Search and Rescue also responded to assist.

An autopsy on Monday determined the cause of Collett’s death to be multiple blunt force injuries and the manner to be an accident.

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