HomeNewsSearch for missing, endangered woman in Grand County suspended

Search for missing, endangered woman in Grand County suspended

GRAND COUNTY, Colo. — The search for a missing and endangered woman last known to be in Grand County on Aug. 11 has been suspended.

The Grand County Sheriff’s Office said this came in the wake of a “tremendous amount of time and resources” trying to locate Svetlana Ustimenko, a woman in her mid-50s from Florida.

missing Svetlana Ustimenko.jpg

Grand County Sheriff’s Office

The sheriff’s office said the investigation into her disappearance began during the week of July 30, when deputies and a U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer noticed a rental car parked at the trailhead for the Deadhorse Creek trail off County Road 73, southwest of Fraser.

The officials said the car — a white 2022 Nissan Sentra with Louisiana license plates — appeared to have been parked there and not used for an extended amount of time. They found that it was scheduled to be returned to the rental car company on Aug. 10, according to the sheriff’s office.

Svetlana Ustimenko car

Grand County Sheriff’s Office

After Aug. 10, authorities said the car was still at the trailhead. They worked with the company and learned the vehicle was related to a missing persons case out of Florida. Using information from the company and the woman’s family, the sheriff’s office said it determined that Svetlana Ustimenko was missing from Florida and was considered endangered.

On the evening of Aug. 11, authorities searched around the car and trailhead. The searches continued into Aug. 12 and 13, which included help from Grand County Search and Rescue, drones, Front Range Rescue Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs of the United States, and Colorado Search and Rescue, according to the sheriff’s office.

Search for Svetlana Ustimenko - GCSAR Debrief.jpg

Grand County Sheriff’s Office

On Aug. 18, Grand County Search and Rescue finished a three-hour small reconnaissance search and on Aug. 20, an extensive search ended. The latter had included more than 25 people and six cadaver dogs trained to smell for human remains.

The searches have included on- and off-trail efforts in difficult terrain, including steep slopes, dead and downed trees, and thick brush. Drones were flown over the area and investigators covered large swaths of the area on horseback, the sheriff’s office said.

Search for Svetlana Ustimenko - Dog Search Teams Debrief.jpg

Grand County Sheriff’s Office

None of the searches ended with any signs or clues about Ustimenko’s whereabouts.

Grand County Search and Rescue said it does not believe she is in the primary search area. It estimated that more than 750 volunteer hours were devoted to finding her.

The search is now suspended, the sheriff’s office announced Tuesday. They have been in contact with Ustimenko’s family in Florida, as well as the local sheriff’s office there. The family said she had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and as she struggled to cope, she was drawn to the Colorado mountains.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Ustimenko had not been located. The search into her disappearance is ongoing.

Search for Svetlana Ustimenko 1.jpg

Grand County Sheriff’s Office

“This case highlights the incredible work and dedication of our professional Search and Rescue volunteers from Grand County and our surrounding entities,” said Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin. “The family and I are very grateful to them for their courageous efforts.”

Anybody who recently used the Deadhorse Loop or trailhead and may have seen Ustimenko is asked to call the non-emergency phone number for Grand County dispatch at 970-725-3311 or email [email protected].

Denver 7+ Colorado News Latest Headlines | August 22, 11am

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