Ian O’Brien Obituary, Death Cause – It is with a heavy heart that we come together to remember the life of Ian O’Brien, the adventurous 28-year-old runner who went missing near Hesperus Mountain on June 24. The search for Ian, which brought together a remarkable community of volunteers and supporters, has come to a solemn conclusion with the discovery of his body on September 2 in Echo Basin northeast of Mancos. Ian O’Brien, originally from Roxbury, New York, had spent the last six years in the breathtaking landscapes of Southwest Colorado, a place he adored. Together with his partner, Beth Henshaw, they had recently moved to Page, Arizona. However, the couple returned to camp in late June on the west side of the La Plata Mountains, where Ian set out alone to scout a route to the summit of Hesperus Mountain. His love for the outdoors and his adventurous spirit were defining aspects of his life.
Ian’s disappearance shook our community to its core, revealing the incredible depth and richness of the connections he had forged across the country. As a former field guide for Open Sky Wilderness Therapy and a camp counselor, he was not only highly experienced in the wilderness but also deeply committed to helping others discover its beauty and healing power. The official search for Ian was suspended on June 28 by Montezuma County Sheriff Steve Nowlin, but the unofficial search, fueled by the unwavering dedication of volunteers, continued for another 11 days. Between 25 and 80 volunteers, some who knew Ian from Open Sky or Prescott College and others who didn’t know him at all, gathered in Lucy Halls Park each day to comb through the overgrown wilderness in hopes of finding him.
The outpouring of support from the community, both near and far, was truly remarkable. Thanks to this support, the incident command center for the unofficial search was equipped with Starlink internet, radios, and satellite communication, ensuring effective coordination and communication. Ian O’Brien’s adventurous spirit and his ability to bring people together will forever be remembered. We extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and all those who joined the search effort. While we mourn the loss of a beloved member of our community, let us also celebrate the unity and strength that emerged during this difficult time. May Ian O’Brien rest in eternal peace, and may his memory continue to inspire us to embrace the beauty and adventure of the world around us.