A 20-Year-Old college student died while on a hike to a hot spring in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, according to Denver NBC affiliate KUSA.
Susanna Deforest of Collegeville, Pennsylvania fell ill while on a 16-mile hike to Conundrum Hot Springs, south of Aspen.
DeForest was visiting three friends from Pennsylvania who now live in the town of Dillon, Colorado.
Pitkin County Sheriff's Deputy Anthony Todaro told The Aspen Times the group had the proper gear, water and food to spend the night at the hot spring, but left late in the day on Thursday, August 18. According to the website AllTrails, the hike is rated as “difficult” and can take up to eight hours to complete.
About six miles into the hike Deforest became ill and started vomiting. The group set up a tent for her to rest in, while two members of the party hiked out to get help. They were finally able to reach the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office at 10:45 pm, who dispatched a rescue helicopter. Due to inclement weather, however, the initial helicopter was unable to land. When a second helicopter returned in the predawn hours of Friday, August 19, they found Deforest had died during the night.
Pitkin County Deputy Coroner Eric Hansen said Sunday that DeForest’s cause of death is still under investigation. While she had known medical issues, she may have been suffering the effects of altitude sickness, which causes nausea and dizziness and affects people not used to altitudes of over 8,000 feet above sea level.
The Conundrum Creek Trailhead, which DeForest and her friends were on, begins at 8,765 feet and reaches a maximum elevation of 11,222 feet.
DeForest had just completed her sophomore year at the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design, where she studied graphic design and had recently made the dean’s list.