Colo. firefighter found dead inside truck
A cause of death was not immediately released, but among resources the sheriff’s office referred people to was suicide prevention support
Carina Julig and Kieran Nicholson
The Denver Post
GYPSUM, Colo. — The body of a missing Eagle County Sheriff’s deputy was located Friday inside his truck in a rural part of Garfield County, officials said.
Tayler Esslinger, of Gypsum, was last seen on Tuesday. He was driving a black 2011 Dodge pickup truck, and was believed to be heading into the mountains, according to the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.
Esslinger, 26, is a detention deputy with Eagle County and a volunteer firefighter with the Gypsum Fire Protection District, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
“It is with great sadness that the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed, from the Garfield County Coroner’s office, that Tayler Esslinger was found deceased in his vehicle this afternoon,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release. “We are very heartbroken by today’s turn of events in this discovery.”
A major search for Esslinger was undertaken Thursday, with about 75 members of the public joining public safety officers in ground searches. Helicopters from the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control, Multi-Mission Aircraft and the Colorado National Guard High Altitude Aviation Training Site (HAATS) also patrolled the area by air.
The sheriff’s office in its news release encouraged people who needed counseling to seek help. A cause of death was not immediately released, but among resources the sheriff’s office referred people to was suicide prevention support.
On Friday afternoon, Eagle County Sheriff’s Office announced in a Facebook post that Esslinger’s truck had been located by air and that all search efforts were being called off.
The Sheriff’s Office thanked the community for all of their support in attempting to locate Esslinger.
“While it was not the outcome we had all been hoping and praying for, these last few days have shown how the circumstances of one individual can pull us together to make us all stronger,” the sheriff’s office said. The love and support this community has shown in the search for Tayler has been beyond words. This support has been a comfort to his family, friends, co-workers, and the entire community.”
The sheriff’s office offered condolences to the Esslinger family.
In comments on the Facebook post, Esslinger’s brother Tyler Esslinger thanked those who helped in the search.
“It’s a hard time for myself and everyone who knew him,” he wrote.
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