WOLF CREEK PASS— Search and rescue teams from both Mineral and Archuleta counties have been looking for a missing man near the Wolf Creek Pass lookout over the last several weeks. As of Sept. 13, efforts to find Matthew Johnston have been underway after being reported missing Sept. 4. SAR teams have closed the lookout location on several occasions to use the space to search for the missing hiker coming up short every time.
A 9-1-1 call from Johnston’s cell phone came through on Sept. 4 with a garbled messaged of Johnston saying he was thirsty. It was later that family reported the man missing to authorities 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, to which nothing was found.
On Sept. 19, due to a lack of evidence, the search was suspended. Officials continued to keep an eye on the area and track Johnston’s cell phone until bringing another team of dogs into the area on Sept. 26, but there was still no sign of Johnston.
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,” stated Hosselkus. He continued, explaining 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. As of now, Johnston is considered a missing person.