Public Safety

Iowa City man falls to his death while hiking in Colorado

A photo of the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area in Boulder County, Colorado. (USDA Forest Service)
A photo of the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area in Boulder County, Colorado. (USDA Forest Service)

Colorado authorities are investigating the death of a 31-year-old Iowa City man who fell to his death Saturday while hiking near Brainard Lake Recreational Area, about 60 miles northwest of Denver, Colorado.

The Boulder County Coroner’s Office has identified the man as James Napier, according to the Daily Camera, a news outlet in Boulder County, Colorado.

According to the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, Napier and his girlfriend had left Pawnee Campground near Brainard Lake and hiked to the base of Navajo Peak. Napier was climbing a boulder when he slipped and fell, according to a media release from the sheriff’s office.

Cmdr. Mike Wagner, a public information officer with the sheriff’s office, said Napier’s girlfriend, who is a doctor, told authorities Napier had fallen an estimated 20 to 30 feet, bounced off some lower rocks and landed in a crevasse. She said he hit his head several times as he fell.

The sheriff’s office said the girlfriend hiked down to Napier and assessed that he had no pulse and had “sustained significant trauma during the fall and could not be resuscitated.”

Because she had no cellphone service, the sheriff’s office said the girlfriend then made the five-mile hike back to Lake Brainard and notified authorities. The hike between Brainard Lake and Navajo Peak typically takes about 90 minutes to two hours. Authorities said the 911 call came in at about 1:30 p.m. Saturday from a camp host at the Pawnee Capground.

Inclement weather prevented authorities from recovering Napier’s remains until Sunday.

The sheriff’s office said Napier’s girlfriend has “been cooperative in the investigation, and no foul play is suspected.”

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According to an obituary published in The Denver Post, Napier was a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a law student at the University of Iowa. He was an avid hiker who especially enjoyed hiking in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.

A funeral service has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Denver, Colorado.

Below is a full statement from the University of Iowa’s associate dean of students Angie Reams.

Dear members of the UI community,

I am saddened to inform you of the loss of a student from the Hawkeye family. James Napier III, a rising second year law student, died on Saturday, July 7, 2018. We offer our deepest condolences to Jim’s family, friends, and loved ones. Jim’s obituary can be read here.

Losing a fellow student and member of our university community can be very difficult. I encourage students who feel they need support to contact University Counseling Service at 319-335-7294 or to schedule an appointment. For staff and faculty members needing support, please contact Faculty and Staff Services Employee Assistance Program at 319-335-2085 or eaphelp@uiowa.edu. You can also call the Johnson County Crisis Center’s 24-hour crisis line at 319-351-0140.

During this time, we are reminded of the importance of community and accepting emotional support. If you have questions or need further assistance, please feel free to contact Student Care & Assistance in the Office of the Dean of Students.

Sincerely,

Angie Reams, Ph.D.

Associate Dean of Students

l Comments: kat.russell@thegazette.com

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