Searchers find missing Vail Valley deputy’s body in eastern Garfield County |

Searchers find missing Vail Valley deputy’s body in eastern Garfield County

Tayler Esslinger, 26, an Eagle County Sheriff’s deputy and volunteer firefighter, had been missing since Tuesday

Randy Wyrick
Vail Daily
Ross WIlmore and the Northwest Colorado Incident Management Team is helping organize and coordinate the search.
Randy Wyrick/Vail Daily

GYPSUM — Almost four days after he went missing, searchers found a missing Gypsum man Friday.

Tayler Esslinger, 26, an Eagle County Sheriff’s Deputy and volunteer fire fighter in Gypsum, was found deceased in eastern Garfield County. He was last heard from around 4 a.m. Tuesday when his cell phone pinged.

More than 75 volunteers joined the search Friday morning, locating Esslinger’s black Dodge Ram pickup around 10:45 a.m., confirmed Jessie Porter, public information officer with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office. A few minutes after the truck was located, Gypsum Fire Chief Justin Kirkland summoned his crew to a private room in the firehouse.

All search teams have been recalled from their field efforts after Esslinger’s truck was found, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office said.

“The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office cannot thank our community enough for the enormous outpouring of support during this difficult time. Numerous volunteers joined us in searching for Tayler by donating their personal time and vehicles to assist in the days following Tayler’s disappearance,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a social media post.

Doug Cupp, the operations section chief and fire chief for the Greater Eagle Fire Protection District said, “We wouldn’t be able to do this without all these volunteers. It’s great to see the community rise to this.”

Esslinger’s phone pinged at 4 a.m. Tuesday in a remote area of western Eagle County, and crews started the search there Tuesday.

During their Friday morning briefing, Cupp urged safety first for the searchers, and also reminded them to get out of their vehicles and put their boots on the ground.

It was dark when Esslinger disappeared, so it’s possible he simply ran off the road and is stuck somewhere not easily seen.

“In areas where you cannot see over the edge, get out and look,” Cupp told the searchers. “We’re not looking for just a truck at a trailhead.”


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