Rangers find body of hiker missing in Rocky Mountain National Park

ESTES PARK, Colo. — Rescuers on Thursday recovered the body of a Colorado Springs hiker missing since Sunday in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Lucas Macaj, 23, was reported overdue late Sunday night after going on a hike on the Longs Peak Trailhead and never returning, National Park Service officials said.

Macaj was found on Mills Glacier, near the base of Lamb’s Slide, according to a news release.

“Initial investigations indicate he took a significant fall,” officials said.

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Macaj was a sergeant in the U.S. Space Force, which he joined in August 2023 as an interservice transfer from the U.S. Marine Corp, KKTV in Colorado Springs reported. He served as a space operator for the 8th Combat Training Squadron, part of Space Delta 8 headquartered at Schriever Schriever Space Force Base.

The base is located about 10 miles east of the city.

RIP, my Space Marine 😇

Posted by Tammi Flor Macaj on Monday, May 13, 2024

“Space Delta 8 is a family and we have lost one of our own,” Col. David A. Pheasant, Space Delta 8 commander, said in a statement. “I extend my deepest personal condolences to family, friends and teammates who will be grieving through their loss. We will make every effort to ensure those within our team grieving this loss have full access to the trained helping agencies available.”

According to National Park Service authorities, the seasoned hiker was last heard from around 1 p.m. Sunday, when he texted a friend indicating that he was on the summit of Longs Peak.

Significant storms moved through high elevations in the park that afternoon.

Search efforts began on Monday, at which point rangers confirmed that Macaj’s vehicle was still parked at the Longs Peak Trailhead. Multiple teams of searchers took to the ground and air, beginning on the trail and along the Keyhole Route that Macaj had taken to the peak.

Search efforts continued today for Lucas Macaj, 23, of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Team members have been reviewing...

Posted by Rocky Mountain National Park on Wednesday, May 15, 2024

According to a trailhead guide, the Keyhole Route is a “climb that crosses enormous sheer vertical rock faces — often with falling rocks — and requires scrambling where an unroped fall would likely be fatal.”

The route is full of narrow ledges, loose rock and steep cliffs.

Rangers warn that the weather on Longs Peak is extreme and cannot be predicted.

“The Keyhole Route can have ice, snow and winter-like conditions at any time, requiring greater skill and judgment,” the guide states. “Be prepared to quickly turn back during sudden, drastic weather changes.”

After Macaj was found, rangers completed an on-scene investigation and recovered his body via helicopter. He was flown to a landing zone in Rocky Mountain National Park and transferred to the Boulder County Coroner’s Office, authorities said.

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