Three highly decomposed bodies of campers were found on Sunday in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, and they might have been there since last year, law enforcement officials said.
A hiker near the Gold Creek Campground in the Gunnison National Forest in western Colorado discovered a remote campsite outside of the campground with a severely decomposed body and contacted authorities just before 5 p.m., according to a news release from the Gunnison County Sheriff’s Office in Gunnison, Colo.
Officials determined that they needed daylight to conduct an investigation, since the area was so remote they wouldn’t be able to plug in any lights. Investigators went to the scene at 8 a.m. the next day.
In addition to the individual the hiker spotted, investigators found two more bodies in a tent. There was also a lean-to fire pit built from logs from the area, Gunnison County Sheriff Adam Murdie said.
When officials found the bodies at the campsite, they were so decomposed that it was impossible to identify them, Mr. Murdie said.
“They’ve been there for a while,” Mr. Murdie said. “We’re suspecting they were there under the snow all winter long.”
Although the area is not an official campsite, it’s not unusual for hikers and backpackers to set up camp near where the corpses were found, Mr. Murdie said.
Having people die in the area, however, is rare, he said. “It’s totally uncommon,” Mr. Murdie said.
The sheriff’s office has a “vague idea” of who the victims might be, but it is awaiting an autopsy report before it can make a determination, Mr. Murdie said. He said he estimated the autopsy report would be ready by next week at the earliest, but could take up to three weeks.
The coroner could not be reached for comment.
The law enforcement agency said in a statement that there were no known risks to outdoor enthusiasts related to the deaths.
The sheriff’s office is also combing through missing persons reports for possible leads, Mr. Murdie said.