The Las Vegas parents of a U.S. Air Force Academy cadet candidate who died while hiking at Rocky Mountain National Park are working with lawmakers to change existing search and rescue laws.
Since the death of their 20-year-old son, Micah, Benjamin and Janice Tice say they want to change the way search and rescues are carried out — “that the military become the first point of contact for search and rescue for federally managed land,” Benjamin Tice said.
In an interview with FOX31, the Tices suggested the different branches of the military can offer the most resources and have the highest levels of skill to recover a missing person.
The Tices said they asked search teams at RMNP to bring in the military to help find their son, but it never happened. Janice Tice said the military’s involvement could have changed the outcome for Micah.
“In our opinion (the help) was not what he could have received in order to save his life,” she said.
Park visitors near Longs Peak last saw Micah Tice Nov. 24, 2018, according to RMNP. Search and rescue teams looked for Micah for 11 days, but he was not found for another eight months. In July, Micah’s remains were located near the Boulder Brook drainage area of the park.
The Tices said they have felt overwhelming support since the loss of their son, but they are also looking to Micah’s legacy for strength.
“Let’s not just talk about it,” Benjamin Tice said. “He was man of action, too. Let’s do something.”
For more information on the Tices’ legislative efforts, visit the Micah Tice Search and Rescue site.
FOX31 asked RMNP to respond to the Tice’s comments on the search effort. Here is their statement in full:
Military assets were used including helicopter support and aerial searches from the Colorado Air National Guard, cell phone analysis from Air Force Resource Coordination Center (AFRCC), and the mountaineering club from USAFA. Rocky Mountain National Park was not contacted by other military organizations. Micah Tice was acting as a private citizen, not on a military assignment or mission, when he attempted to summit Longs Peak.
Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue Team members began our active search efforts three days after Micah was last seen, as he was not known to be missing until late November 26. Severe blizzard conditions existed on the mountain when he left the trailhead at 6:30 a.m. on November 24, wearing sweatpants, a sweatshirt and tennis shoes. Visitors who were winter mountaineering encountered Tice just above treeline, miles from the summit, and discouraged him from continuing to the summit due to his clothing, footwear and extreme weather conditions.
The search for Micah took place over 11 days in severe winter conditions. The number of rescuers in the field were appropriate given the difficulty of the high alpine environment, and the safety of the rescuers. Over an intensive search period, ground and aerial searchers covered an approximate 10 square mile search area. Per the park’s request, the Colorado Search and Rescue Association provided a review on day four of search efforts and concurred with the operation and resource levels. The search operations for Micah had broad agency review and input. Ground resources were fulfilled from park staff and numerous partner agencies. Assisting Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue team members were Larimer County Search and Rescue, Rocky Mountain Rescue based in Boulder County, Colorado Air National Guard, Alpine Rescue Team, Diamond Peaks Ski Patrol, Colorado Avalanche Information Center, Grand County Search and Rescue, Douglas County Search and Rescue, Colorado Search and Rescue Association, Summit County Rescue Group Dog Team, Front Range Rescue Dogs, the mountaineering club from USAFA and FLIR Systems Inc. who volunteered their services to conduct thermal imaging of the search area.
Our hearts continue to go out to Micah’s family and friends.