A Parker, Colo., man who got lost after leaving his family to have a cigarette was found the next day on the mesa above Culvert Canyon.

According to the Grand County Sheriff’s Office, the family of Jeffrey Rossi came to the sheriff’s office on June 13 to report that Jeffrey had left the area of Metal Masher after a disagreement with the family. The family had searched the area for him after he took off on foot. They were able to locate his shoe tracks as they crossed the Gemini Bridge road and placed a stone marker in the area of the track.

The Sheriff’s Office started a search for Rossi that included Search and Rescue, Grand County Sheriff’s Office Rapid Apprehension and Tactical Teams (RATT) and Department of Public Safety Helicopter. The search began at the area of the last seen shoe track. The tracking teams were able to follow the tracks through terrain ranging from dirt/sand and slickrock and several canyons. The search concluded at dark on the first night with the tracks having been followed to the area of Gold Bar and Culvert Canyons.

The search began the next morning, June 14, with tracking teams being flown into the area of the last track. The helicopter found Rossi at 10 a.m., as they were flying in those tracking teams. Rossi was located on the mesa above Culvert Canyon as he was attempting to draw the attention of the helicopter. The area he was found in is above the Gold Bar Recreation area on State Road 279. Rossi was flown to the EOC where he was transported to Moab Regional Hospital in good condition.

Rossi said he had gotten lost when he left the area of his family to have a smoke. His intention was to make it to the Colorado River. He had built a fire during his trek that he did not recall and he was able to find water, which he drank after filtering it through his pants. He stated he had buried himself in the warm sand at night. He stated he had attempted to signal the helicopter the first night of the search by taking his pants off and waving them over his head to try and get the helicopter’s attention, but they did not see him.

The RATT teams area a recent addition to the Sheriff’s Office where they have been trained in the rapid deployment and tracking of persons that are fleeing the scene of a crime and/or missing persons. The teams are comprised of deputies within the Sheriff’s Office.

The tracking teams in conjunction with search and rescue covered a lot of ground in a very short period of time and made what could have been a long and exhaustive search into a relatively short and successful search for Rossi.