COLORADO SPRINGS — The El Paso County Coroner's Office has identified 64-year-old Howard Stone as the man who fell to his death while hiking and climbing in a restricted area at Red Rocks Canyon Open Space.
Colorado Springs Police found the man after they got a call for an injured party just after noon on Tuesday. Officers believe Stone slipped and fell an estimated 85 feet.
He was hiking in an area not open to the public, and according to officers, he had to have climbed a 6-foot tall chain link fence to get to the spot.
CSPD said the fall is being considered accidental. The area where the man fell is right next to Highway 24, so there were reportedly numerous witnesses to the fall.
The beauty of rock formations and expansive canyons in Colorado Springs are major attractions. They are also where a growing number of people are getting hurt or stuck. There are also instances of people falling to their death.
When someone is in trouble up on a sheer rock face, the High Angle Rescue Team with Colorado Springs Fire Department is dispatched. "Our numbers are increasing annually, and we are seeing 40 to 50 call-outs a year,” said Colorado Springs Fire Department Captain, Carl Miller. It is a mix of tourists and locals needing help.
It is common finding people who acted on impulse, not giving a lot of thought about trying to scale a rock wall or getting to the top of a rock formation. "It is easier to get up, than it is to get down," said Miller. Up high with rock below, they are quickly in danger.
There are city ordinances in place aimed at preventing the safety issue. A no scrambling rule means there is no climbing above ten feet on rocks and formations without proper equipment. With the proper gear you can climb in designated areas with a permit. In addition to safety, the rules are aimed at preserving the natural attractions.
Members of the High Angle Rescue Team suggest using wisdom beyond the rules. “Up a rock face of any height we’re going to have our technical stuff on,” said Miller. Even below the ten foot mark of the no scrambling rule they work as if all parts of a rock face are potentially dangerous.
Climbing permits are issued for only four parks. They are Ute Valley Park, Garden of the Gods Park, Red Rocks Open Space, and Cheyenne Canon Park. Breaking the rules can result in a $500 fine.