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Sheriff responds to Fiore letter


Below is a letter from the sheriff printed in the March 29 edition of the Salida Mountain Mail.


Allow me to respond to Patrick Fiore’s letter critical of our search efforts.  Here are the facts and what we knew about Mr. Fiore at the time.

We received a call from Fiore’s girlfriend, not from Fiore directly, at around 9pm saying Fiore had called her and said he was lost but thought he was somewhere close to his car.  We were informed that Fiore is an adult male, age 33, in good health, a former Outward Bound instructor, and an experienced hiker.  He was accompanied by his two Huskies.  He had with him a food bar, something to drink, a flashlight, a cell phone, and a lighter.  He had not planned on spending the night out, but was building a fire.  The weather was cold, but not unseasonably so. 

The deputy did not attempt to walk to Fiore’s rescue, nor would we expect him to under the circumstances.  It was well after dark, the terrain was uneven and unfamiliar, and the risk to the deputy’s personal safety did not warrant an attempt to “rescue” an adult male who was neither ill, injured, or inexperienced.  In fact, we learn from Fiore’s letter that he also had a compass, knew how to use it, and indeed eventually walked out on his own.

Our search and rescue team members, volunteers all, risk life and limb several times a year to rescue people in infinitely more precarious situations than was experienced by Fiore.  Your readers may recall some of the heroic missions they accomplished just last summer.  And when circumstances warrant  –a lost child, a seriously injured or ill person—they will unhesitatingly bear even greater risks to their own safety to assist.  That was manifestly not the case with Fiore. 

We regret his few hours of discomfort.

Pete Palmer

Chaffee County Sheriff