Cause of death determined for missing hunter
November 25, 2015
A cause of death has been determined for the missing Minnesota hunter found after a four-day search.
Routt County Undersheriff Ray Birch said pathology results show Richard “Rick” Harkins, 43, died of altitude sickness. It was also discovered that Harkins had an enlarged heart, which contributed to his death.
Harkins did not have alcohol in his system, but tests showed he had consumed marijuana. In the pathologist’s opinion, the marijuana did not contribute to Harkins’ death.
Harkins was reported missing Sept. 8 after not returning to camp.
Birch said that, on Sept. 7, Harkins was not feeling well and chose to stay at camp while the four people he was with headed out to hunt. When the hunters returned, Harkins was gone.
The search for Harkins between Steamboat Lake and California Park was massive and included people on the ground and in helicopters and planes above. Search dogs were also used, as well as Routt County Search and Rescue volunteers.
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Birch said four people who volunteered to search located Harkins about 200 yards from his camp. He was found in full camouflage, leaning over from a seated position with his bow in his hand.
“Seemed as though he was hunting,” Birch said.
Harkins was living in Duluth, Minnesota. He was divorced and had no children.
Harkins was a sales representative for Castle, which makes snowmobile and motorcycle clothing and accessories.