Independence Monument climber confirmed to have died earlier than thought
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Initially thought to have survived the fall before succumbing to his injuries shortly after, further information has been released from Colorado National Monument that confirms Whiteside was dead before rescuers arrived. The deceased was 67-year-old Andrew Whiteside, from Lutherville Timonium, Maryland.
Whiteside was leading the first section of Otto’s Route, a four-pitch climb, when he disappeared from view. Shortly after, Whiteside fell approximately 30 feet and landed on a rocky ledge about halfway up the pitch. He likely died on impact.
Colorado National Monument, Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, Mesa County Search and Rescue, and the Lower Valley Fire District responded. Rescue crews hiked several miles and climbed partway up the monument in an attempt to rescue Whiteside. The Mesa County Coroner’s Office has since confirmed the cause of death as multiple blunt force injuries, and no foul play is suspected.
Otto’s Route was first climbed in 1911 by John Otto, the first park custodian and key advocate for its eventual establishment as a national monument.
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