Hunters reported missing during storm


Three hunters were reported missing last night at Morapis Creek in Rio Blanco County.

At 9:41 p.m., a call came into the Moffat County Sheriff's office to report the missing persons, the call was then transferred to the Rio Blanco office.

With heavy snow and heavy fog reported in and around Meeker on Wednesday, the likelihood of hunters being found that night, were slim.

According to Rio Blanco Sheriff's department dispatcher Mike Cook, the three hunters made their way back to camp safely just before noon on Thursday. All three were in good condition and no other action is being taken.

National Guard joins search for hunters

Another hunter was reported missing about 9 p.m. Wednesday night.

Walter Benskin, 55, of Texas, was hunting with a friend who said they left camp at 6 a.m. Wednesday morning but that Benskin never returned.

Cook said the Sheriff's department was notified, and a search and rescue team was sent in to the White River National Forest to find Benskin.

Benskin went missing near the Vaughn Lake area, just off of Ripple Creek Pass, Cook told the Daily Press.

"He had some food, but it appears that he was not prepared for winter weather," Cook said.

As of 5:30 p.m. Thursday Benskin had not been located. The search was called off at dark and will resume today, with help from the National Guard and the Garfield County search and rescue team.

"We're going to regroup tomorrow," Cook said.

Cook also said that because of the adverse weather conditions during the day, no aerial search was conducted, but with better weather predicted tomorrow, a helicopter and small plane will be used to search for Benskin.

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