WOLF CREEK PASS — Search and rescue crews have had little luck in locating Matthew Johnston of Rico who went missing more than a month ago near the Wolf Creek Pass lookout.
A 9-1-1 call from Johnston’s cell phone came through on Sept. 4 with a garbled messaged from Johnston saying he was thirsty. His family later reported Johnston missing, and a search of the surrounding area began. According to Mineral County Emergency Manager Terry Wetherill, there was forensic evidence of a cell phone ping that led teams to the lookout on Wolf Creek Pass, where Johnston’s vehicle was discovered.
Wetherill reported that after the initial search began, teams requested a flight for life team and conducted a backcountry search for the missing person to no avail. Later in the week, SAR teams continued the search with a dog team and infrared cameras that are meant to detect any type of heat sources in the area, including a warm body, but nothing was found.
On Sept. 19, due to a lack of evidence, the search was suspended.
Search and rescue teams from both Mineral and Archuleta counties have been looking for the missing man. They have combed the area but have found no sign of him. K-9 Search and Rescue of Dolores participated in the search on Sept. 26, said response director Chuck Melvin, but there were still no clues.
During the Mineral County Commissioner meeting on Oct. 2, Mineral County Sheriff Fred Hosselkus updated commissioners on the status of the case, stating that they still have been unable to find any sign of Johnston.
“We just don’t know if the guy is there or not. We don’t know if he hiked out of the area, got picked up or is somewhere we haven’t looked yet,” Hosselkus said.
He explained that efforts to search the area are still underway and that he will be meeting with Johnston’s family in the next week.
Officials urge anyone with any information to contact either the Archuleta or Mineral County Sheriff’s Departments.
An Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office Facebook post states that authorities will continue to investigate and track Johnston’s cell phone.
“As of now, Matthew is considered a missing person,” the post states. “Thank you for all your concerns and please keep Matthew’s friends and family in your thoughts.”
Anyone with information, please call the Mineral County Sheriff’s office at 719-658-2600.