DENVER (KDVR) – The Summit County Rescue Group launched a search effort Wednesday morning after they received reports of a missing person.

The search ended on a positive note, but now, first responders are letting the public know there are several steps to take to help crews quickly complete their rescue mission.

According to the Summit County Rescue Group, a report of a missing person was made Wednesday morning when the caller’s brother failed to return to their campsite the previous night.


Since the area of focus in the Surprise Lake/Upper Cataract Lake area was off-trail and at a high elevation, SCRG requested the assistance of air support from Flight for Life and the Colorado National Guard’s High Altitude ARNG Aviation Training Site (HAATS).

The list of personnel deployed during this rescue effort:

  • Flight for Life (helicopter)- 1 rescuer
  • HAATS (Blackhawk) – 7 rescuers
  • Summit County Rescue Group (from the Surprise Lake Trailhead) – 4 rescuers

Around 5:30 p.m., after rescuers were deployed, the missing person saw the two helicopters above, assumed that they were looking for him, and moved to an open area so that he could get their attention. This was the correct move, according to SCRG.

However, SCRG said that when he got into the open space, he waved at them “in a very slight gesture that they interpreted to mean he was simply saying hello and not in distress.”


The effective way to properly catch an airborne rescuers’ attention is to signal with big gestures, which include the vigorous waving of both arms over one’s head. Additionally, if you have a bright-colored piece of clothing, you are encouraged to use that to flag down any search crews.

This rescue effort ended positively, as the missing man was unharmed and escorted safely back to his campsite, but this incident serves as a helpful reminder to always be prepared for things to go south while out in Colorado’s wilderness.