Victim ID’d in fall near Continental Divide

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— The Routt County Sheriff’s Office identified the victim of a 200-foot fall Sunday at cliffs near Buffalo Pass, and began wrapping up investigations of the incident Tuesday.

Lynne Schuchter, 47, and her family were part-time Steamboat Springs residents from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., sheriff’s investigator Paul Pirnat said. “They have a condo here, bought property and were planning on building a house,” he said.

Schuchter’s husband, William, accompanied her on the day-hike five miles northeast of Summit Lake, near the scenic vistas of Round Mountain Lake. They have two children, 5 and 7.

The fall occurred when the couple had hiked approximately a quarter mile east of the Continental Divide Trail, to a point at an elevation of 10,500 feet, Pirnat said.

“They were up on a ledge having a picnic,” he said, when she apparently slipped while dancing.

“She was near the edge, and slipped and fell,” he said.

Pirnat described the cliff as not sheer but jagged, with numerous rocks jutting from the side. The woman fell approximately 200 feet, he said.

William Schuchter attempted to climb down to her, and injured his ankle, Pirnat said. While attempting to climb out, an employee of the Routt National Forest came upon him, assisted him out and transported him to Routt Memorial Hospital.

Investigations so far confirm the husband’s account, Pirnat said. “Everything we’ve found fits in with what the husband has said.”

The sheriff’s office received the call approximately 6 p.m. Sunday. Routt County Search and Rescue and the Sheriff’s office responded, as well as a medical evacuation helicopter from Cheyenne, Wyo.

The victim was not located until 11:45 p.m. Due to darkness and rugged terrain, the body could not be retrieved until Monday.

The fall occurred just inside the Jackson County border, so its sheriff’s office joined forces with Routt County for the complex retrieval operation.

Four law enforcement officers and 10 - 12 Routt County Search and Rescue members ventured to the accident scene Monday, securing permission from the Forest Service to use four-wheel drive vehicles in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness area.

The Search and Rescue personnel with expertise in such retrieval procedures established access from the Routt County side of the canyon, Pirnat said.

Pirnat, investigator Gary Sigman and Ray Alexander, the under sheriff for Jackson County, praised the efforts of Search and Rescue. The whole operation, in which Pirnat and others rappelled down the cliff to prepare a pulley system, lasted from 10:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m.

“A lot of the time consuming part is preparing to make sure things are done safely,” Pirnat said. “The Search and Rescue group did a superb job.”

An autopsy has been scheduled in Jefferson County, Pirnat said. He noted that the final investigation work, in which Routt officials are assisting Jackson County, is nearly complete.

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