Authorities confirmed that the remains found Friday in the Rocky Mountains are those of the Rancho High School graduate who went missing in late November.
Larimer County officials identified the body of Micah Tice, 20, who was last seen by two hikers the morning of Nov. 24 at the Longs Peak Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park, the U.S. Air Force Academy said in a Sunday release.
“On behalf of the entire Academy, I would like to express our deepest condolences to the Tice family,” Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, the academy superintendent, said in the release. “At this difficult time, we hope they can take some comfort from the thoughts and prayers of the entire USAFA family and Colorado Springs community. Micah was a tremendous young man with a bright future, and we all feel his loss.”
Tice, a cadet candidate from Las Vegas attending the academy’s preparatory school, was first reported missing when he didn’t return to the academy after Thanksgiving break. The remains were found Friday more than 7 miles away from the trailhead, at the Boulder Brook drainage below the treeline, National Park Service officials said in a statement.
The discovery was made a day after a private search crew affiliated with the Tice family found items — a watch, book pages and part of a shoe, according to the academy — believed to be his.
Reached by phone Sunday, Micah’s mother, Janice Tice, said her family was still awaiting a full report from the Larimer County coroner’s office, adding that she and her family needed time to grieve before they were ready to speak about his loss.
“There is way more to Micah’s story than just his passing,” she said.
Omar Khalek, a rescuer in the group that found the hiker’s belongings, said his goodbyes around 4:47 p.m. Friday on Facebook to the 20-year-old he never met. In the post, he said the crew found Micah Tice’s belongings and gave them to the park service.
“We never stopped looking for you. I am thankful that we are able to bring closure to your family in a way. May your soul Rest In Peace,” the post reads in part.
Several search and rescue teams had looked for Tice since his car was spotted at the trailhead on Nov. 27, but winter conditions hampered the initial efforts.
Last month, Janice Tice posted on Facebook that rescue crews were making progress as snow continued to melt.