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July 22, 2019

Search Continuing for Missing Louisiana Woman in Pole Creek


Search efforts are continuing non-stop for the 64-year-old Louisiana woman, Tessie Strickland, who is presumed drowned after her Jeep stalled and she was swept away in Pole Creek on the upper Rio Grande.
The search for the missing woman has continued on a daily basis, either on the ground or from the sheriff’s office in planning stages, since her disappearance on Thursday evening, June 27. As reported in last week’s WORLD, Mrs. Strickland and her husband, Tommy Strickland, had crossed Pole Creek earlier on June 27 on a day trip to Creede from Silverton.
On their return that evening, however, the depth and velocity of the creek had dramatically increased, and in attempting to cross, the couple were marooned in the middle of the creek after their Jeep stalled.
Unaccompanied at the time, the couple made the decision to jump approximately 4’ from the Jeep to the closest stream bank. Mr. Strickland was attempting to push his wife up onto the bank when he was sucked beneath the water and carried downstream roughly 40’.
After making his way back up to the Jeep, Mrs. Strickland was nowhere to be found.
Hinsdale County Sheriff Justin Casey states that initial search efforts for the woman were the result of collaborative efforts between Hinsdale Sheriff’s Office and Hinsdale Search & Rescue, joined by search personnel from both San Juan and Mineral Counties.
This past Sunday, July 7, Sheriff Casey walked a portion of the creek banks on Pole Creek solo while evaluating the drop in water level. The water depth in Pole Creek has dropped an estimated one foot in between Sunday and June 27 when Mrs. Strickland disappeared. The drop in water level may allow scheduling for water dogs which are trained in locating the bodies of drowning victims.
Casey states that the water dogs at this point are “planned” although not yet scheduled.
Lowering water levels in Pole Creek may also boost efforts to recover the Strickland Jeep which remains awash in the center of the creek. On Monday, Sheriff Casey was in contact with a towing company from Silverton to evaluate when the Jeep might be hauled out of the creek.
Asked for specifics on where Mrs. Strickland’s body may be found and whether there is a possibility she might have washed the eight miles down to Rio Grande Reservoir, Sheriff Casey demurs, stating he has no idea.
Casey credits the outstanding collaborative efforts which have been made in searching for the woman by a corps of local volunteers and agencies which, in addition to Hinsdale, San Juan and Mineral, includes Colorado Dept. Fire Prevention Control.
Initial search efforts were coordinated by Hinsdale County Undersheriff Chris Kambish. The list of local volunteers during the search’s first two days included Logan Rhodes, Jerry Johnson, Christian Hartman, Mike Tuttle, Patrick Tubbs, Darren Hardy, John Bonner, Mike Ralph, Tom Carl, Delbert Frieze, Peter Nesbitt, Martha Levine, and Dan Murphy.
During casual conversation on Monday, Sheriff Casey stated that the well-received Back Country Ranger Program is not yet back up and running for this summer owing to the fact both passes between Cinnamon and Engineer are still not open to traffic. San Juan County is serving as fiscal agent overseeing the program, according to Casey, with officers in both Silverton and Lake City.

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