Body Recovered From Lake Creek Friday
By Kathy Bedell © Leadville Today
**UPDATE** 6 a.m. * June 24 – The week ended in tragedy for a Twin Lakes family as the body of missing 15-year old Kali Lusin was discovered in Lake Creek by a passerby who was walking the area.
Emergency crew members returned to the scene with assistance from the Leadville/Lake County Fire Rescue and Chaffee County’s Water Rescue team were able to remove the body from the water. According to Lake County Public Information officer Betty Benson, the search has now has now formally concluded with the family having been notified, and no further action required.
Friday’s search was conducted from about 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. along the banks of Lake Creek, then later the K-9 dog teams were used and they were able to narrow the focus to an area of about ½ mile. Steep mountainous terrain in additional to rapidly flowing and ever changing water levels made the search and rescue efforts particularly challenging in this mission.
Coordinated efforts from a number of emergency departments from Lake County and neighboring counties allowed this mission to be a true team effort. So special thanks to all the men and women from these agencies who dedicate their time and resources to keep residents and visitors safe. Lake County Search & Rescue, Lake County Office of Emergency Management, Lake County Sheriff, Leadville/Lake County Fire Rescue Department, Salida Search and Rescue, St. Vincent Hospital Ambulance Crew, Lake County Road and Bridge, Summit County Sheriff, Lake County Dispatch, Flight for Life, Chaffee County Swift Water Team and Summit County Water Rescue and several dog teams that were in Lake County for training also arrived on scene to help.
**Initial Report** 11 a.m. – June 23 – Lake County Search and Rescue (SAR) crews have set up an active Mobile Command Post off Highway 82 above Twin Lakes as the search continues for a missing 15-year-old female who fell into Lake Creek on the evening of Thursday, June 22.
According to Lake County Public Information Officer Betty Benson, at 9:15 p.m. last night a call came into Lake County Dispatch Center for a search and rescue request as the day’s light faded on Lake Creek, the scene of the incident.
A 15-year-old female resident of Twin Lakes was out taking pictures of Lake Creek with her father and boyfriend when she lost her footing and fell in to the creek. The situation quickly turned urgent as the steep terrain, combined with unusually high water levels from spring run off, had the victim swept around a sharp bend in the waterway and quickly out of sight of her companions, watching in horror from above.
“The creek has been running very high and rapidly,” explained Benson in an interview with Leadville Today. “Her father and boyfriend both saw the girl fall into the creek, but they were not able to reach her.”
Naturally, the two immediately began to look for the girl, but when their initial efforts proved futile and daylight was quickly fading in the canyon, someone was able to get to an area with cell service and put the call in for help.
When SAR crews reached the area it was dark, but they actively searched until after midnight, when efforts were eventually called off, with plans to re-engage with morning’s first light.
According to Benson, there are presently six agencies involved, with Lake County officials taking the lead in the mission. Local agencies include Lake County Search and Rescue, Lake County Office of Emergency Management, and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. Last night, the teams used drones to aide in aerial searches in the steep mountain terrain. Flight for Life also provided what assistance they could from the air. Another resource aiding in the mission is a team of cadaver dogs who were in Lake County this week for training and will now be engaged in an active search and rescue.
This morning, crews were divided up into teams, breaking their efforts into sections along Lake Creek to thoroughly search the water and banks for any sign of the local youth. It’s a heart-breaking race against time as creek temperatures were reportedly hovering close to freezing last night, according to Benson and air temperatures dipped into the same range in the steep, canyon terrain.
According to Benson this young lady was from the Twin Lakes area, although no names will be released until the mission is complete and authorities have communicated with the family first.
“They live in the Twin Lakes area, it’s a local family,” stated Benson in an interview with Leadville Today.
For readers unfamiliar with the area, Lake Creek is a water tributary that runs from the top of Independence Pass down into Twin Lakes, paralleling Highway 82. The area is popular with hikers and campers, with a number of campgrounds positioned along the waterway. However, with late spring run off and a healthy snow pack to draw from, water levels have been at near historic levels as the tourism season ramps up as well. In fact, for many regular, returning recreationalists, their favorite camp spots and hiking trails are seeing water in places they never have before.