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September 22, 2020

North Henson Camper is County’s Third Death


Hinsdale County Coroner Jerry Gray is finalizing his report on the county’s third fatality this year, a North Henson Creek camper who was apparently dead for some time prior to the discovery of his body on Saturday, July 22.
Hinsdale County Sheriff’s Dept. had observed the parked vehicle with camping equipment for several weeks, although it wasn’t until Saturday that Colorado Parks & Wildlife officer Lucas Martin discovered the man’s body while inspecting the camp.
Coroner Gray, accompanied by Deputy Coroner Lori Lawrence, and Undersheriff Justin Casey and Deputy Chris Kambish of Hinsdale Sheriff’s Dept., then responded to the scene. The man’s body was transported to Montrose for autopsy and positive identification, after which cremation was planned.
Coroner Gray is not releasing further details at this time while investigation continues and in respect to a handwritten note which was found at the scene.
SILVER WORLD will seek further information on the fatality after Coroner Gray completes his report.
Saturday’s discovery was the third 2017 death in Hinsdale County which has occurred in recent weeks.
The most recent death comes on the heels of last week’s report on the drowning of Celina, Texas, fisherman Daniel Nunn whose body was recovered from Henson Creek on July 13.
The first 2017 death to occur in Hinsdale County was on the Upper Piedra in the South End of the county. Local officials were notified of the death of campground host Brian F. McKeown, 53, on June 22. McKeown, a native of Wisconsin, had worked as overseer for the concessionaire operating Bridge Campground on Williams Creek in San Juan National Forest for the past three summers.
His body was found at the campground on June 22 after he apparently died of a massive heart attack while hanging laundry.
McKeown is described as “working homeless” and at the time of his death was occupying a tent site at the campground with rudimentary shelter, a small wading pool where he meditated, and 1999 Dodge Durango pulling a single-axle trailer with wood box camper fitted with solar panels.
With no imemdiate family and only a distant half-brother in Michigan, Hinsdale County took charge of the man’s body and his minimal possessions. Following an autopsy in Durango which confirmed a heart attack, and with permission of his brother, McKeown’s body was cremated per his wishes for his ashes to be scattered “blowing in the wind.”
Sheriff Ron Bruce, Coroner Gray, and Undersheriff Casey scattered the ashes on Spring Creek Pass on their return from the South End on June 28. According to Gray, a stiff breeze was blowing at the time.
Hinsdale County has taken possession of the man’s Dodge Durango, camper trailer and other paraphernalia, including guns and solar panels, which have now been transported for storage in Lake City. Following inventory and a legal notice to be published, the items will be sold to partially recoup expenses to the county estimated in the range of $2,500.
The sole Hinsdale County death which was recorded in 2016 was Irma Hurd’s mother, Maria Ramirez, whose death was certified by Dr. Beuford Durmon of Lake City Area Medical Center on December 8, 2016.
Prior to this year’s series of three deaths in June and July, the last death certified by Hinsdale County Coroner Gray was Lake City resident Milo Morse in May, 2015.

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