LAKE CITY— On July 25 at approximately 4 p.m., the body of Tessie Strickland was found along the Rio Grande River in Hinsdale County. Hinsdale County Coroner Jerry Gray pronounced death at approximately 6:30 p.m. that evening.
The body was transported for identification and was positively identified late Tuesday afternoon, July 30. Strickland’s husband has been notified.
Strickland, 64, of Kentwood, La., was reported missing on June 27 after being swept downstream in Pole Creek near the border of Hinsdale and San Juan counties. Her body was discovered approximately four miles downstream from where Pole Creek empties into the Rio Grande.
Strickland and her husband Tommy Strickland were returning to Silverton from a day trip to Creede on Forest Service Road 520, a four-wheel drive road that crosses Pole Creek. Although passable in the morning when the Stricklands crossed on their way to Creede, the creek had become swollen with spring runoff by the early evening when they returned. When the couple attempted to cross the creek again, their Jeep stalled in the fast-moving water and was carried downstream. In an effort to save themselves, the couple jumped for the stream bank. While trying to help his wife climb up the bank, Tommy said he was swept under the water. After resurfacing, he could not see his wife and could not locate her. Passing motorists found Tommy and assisted him in notifying authorities.
Extensive search operations were conducted to locate Strickland, which included more than 25 personnel from Hinsdale County Sheriff’s Department, Mineral County and San Juan County. Helicopter surveillance was provided by the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control. Personnel conducted foot searches along the banks of the Pole Creek and the Rio Grande, a search and rescue dog was employed, and a drone was used for aerial searches in areas not accessible on foot.