CUCHARA- Deputy Sheriff Joe Albano was injured last Saturday, when he was leading a Search and Rescue recovery team to retrieve the body of Tad Johnson, 47, of Colorado Springs. Johnson had died the prior weekend on a hiking trail outside of Cuchara Ski Resort.
Johnson had come to Cuchara the previous week to stay at a friend’s condominium. When Johnson’s friend arrived at the condo on Tuesday, Johnson was not there, but all of his belongings were.
Search and Rescue found Johnson’s body Tuesday night, but were unable to recover the body due to the rough terrain and deep, wet snow. The hiking trail was too narrow for an ATV or a snowmobile.
Albano, the County Coroner, and four others returned on Saturday with a team of horses to complete the extrication. Johnson’s body was placed in a body bag and strapped travois-style behind one of the horses. The horse, however, was not in the mood to drag a dead body through the forest.
Albano got behind the horse and yelled and waved his arms around in an effort to motivate the horse down the trail. The horse responded with a solid kick to Albano’s chest, cracking his sternum and several ribs.
Albano was able to return to the group’s vehicles with minimal assistance, and was then driven down to the Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center’s emergency room, where he was treated and released. He is currently on medical leave from the Sheriff Department, and is expected to return to duty after Thanksgiving.
Johnson’s body was recovered. His cause of death has yet to be determined by the coroner, but foul play is not suspected.