The search for a New York man who disappeared while attempting to walk over the Rockies on Trail Ridge Road last week came to a successful conclusion late last Thursday when rangers found him lying on a rock along the road’s shoulder.
Jay Starr, 34, of Cohoes, New York, was found in poor condition and was initially uncooperative. He was nonetheless provided care and assistance, and, because he’d been exposed to the elements above tree line over several days, was flown by Flight for Life to the Medical Center of the Rockies. As this is a continuing investigation, no further information is currently being released.
On Monday, January 26th, rangers contacted Starr, who had entered the park on foot and said he was planning to walk westbound over Trail Ridge Road. Rangers advised him against this based on his behavior and his lack of preparedness for winter alpine conditions. Starr was wearing tennis shoes, jeans or tan canvas pants, and a black/blue jacket. He had neither hat nor gloves, and was carrying a plastic grocery bag.
Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous paved road in the United States, with its highest point reaching 12,183 feet. Over ten miles of the road are above 11,500 feet. The road closed to vehicles for the season last November and is not maintained during the winter. Conditions on the road range from bare windblown asphalt to deep snow drifts.
Rangers on skis contacted Starr above Many Parks Curve on last Tuesday afternoon. They were concerned for his welfare and were attempting to assist him. Starr fled from rangers up a dry section of the road and continued to elude rangers until darkness fell.
Beginning early on Wednesday, two teams of rangers again attempted to locate Starr. One team came from the east side of the park and the other team came from the west side of the park. Rangers faced wind gusts of 50 to 60 miles per hour; these high winds and blowing snow hampered their efforts to follow Starr’s footprints. Aerial operations were not possible due to high winds. The entire road corridor was checked
Rangers were assisted by a Colorado Parks and Wildlife officer with an ATV equipped with snow tracks and by an over-snow tracked vehicle and operator from Estes Park Light and Power. The motorized equipment was only used on Trail Ridge Road.