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MEEKER I A 20-year-old Rio Blanco County man died of injuries sustained Sunday while hiking with friends on Himes Peak, 46 miles northeast of Meeker near Trappers Lake, just over the Rio Blanco County line in Garfield County.
Rio Blanco County sheriff’s deputies, Rio Blanco Search and Rescue and Meeker Fire/Rescue responded to the accident scene along with Classic Lifeguard helicopter out of Steamboat Springs. Jake Massey died at the scene after emergency responders arrived at the site.
Investigation of the accident has been turned over to Garfield County.
Massey is the son of Mary Gillespie, a long-time resident of Meeker and a U.S. Forest Service employee.
Rio Blanco County Sheriff Anthony Mazzola, who was at the scene, said the sheriff’s office received a call at about 3 p.m. from Garfield County requesting mutual aid because a climber had fallen and was injured on Himes Peak, a location much closer for Rio Blanco County to respond. That sent the three agencies to the scene and the helicopter was dispatched from Steamboat Springs.
Mazzola said Massey was climbing with two friends. When they reached the summit of Himes Peak, Massey reportedly told the friends he wanted to take the tougher direct route down. They didn’t want to join him, Mazzola said, adding that the two parties split.
Each party started down, with the friends taking the easier route. When they came around the mountain side they saw Massey tumbling, Mazzola said, adding that they did not see him start the fall. The friends reported that when they arrived at Massey’s location, he was unconscious with head injuries.
One friend reportedly stayed with Massey and the other went to Trappers Lake Campground, where they found a deputy on the scene for other business. That deputy called in the incident.
Due to the tough terrain, the helicopter could not land close to the scene. Meanwhile, nine responders from the sheriff’s office and search and rescue had to hike about two miles to get in to the site on the east face of Himes.
When they arrived at the scene, the helicopter EMTs were working on Massey. Soon thereafter, Mazzola said, Massey died.
When a team from Garfield County arrived, there were two deputy coroners from Garfield County with them, and they requested to take over the investigation, Mazzola said.
According to Mazzola, who knew Massey, he was an avid outdoorsman who was well known to Rangely and Meeker.
In addition to his mother, who is with the Forest Service, his father Stuart Massey runs Northwest Colorado Ranching for Wildlife guide/outfitters near Colowyo, and works as a rancher, farmer, guide and outfitter.
Mazzola said Massey lived in Meeker as a child and was graduated from Rangely High School. He was reportedly working for the Forest Service in Meeker at the time of his death.