Coroner: Father, Daughter Died from Head Injuries

Relatives Think They Were Blown Over Ledge By High Winds

A father and daughter found dead on Mount Missouri died from head and neck injuries, according to the Chaffee County Coroner.

Coroner Randy Amettis called 7NEWS after he finished the autopsies on Monday.

"Dr. Michael von Gortler and his daughter, Makana, both died from blunt-force trauma injuries to the head and neck," Amettis said. "There was no indication of injuries from lightning."

Relatives told 7NEWS they believe the two were likely blown off a cliff.

Amettis said the conditions of the bodies and other factors indicated that the von Gortlers died on June 22, the day they began the hike.

"No crime is believed to have been committed," Amettis said.

He declared the deaths an accident.

While Amettis could not say if the hikers had fallen, he said their injuries are not inconsistent with a fall.

Michael von Gortler, 53, and his 20-year-old daughter, Makana von Gortler, a University of Colorado student, went on a day hike on June 22 on the popular 14er near Buena Vista. They were reported missing on June 26 and a search and rescue mission began on June 27.

"She was the type of person that would seek out the loners or the awkward person and she would go to them and say, oh, I see you're eating alone. You don't have to eat alone, just come over here at eat with me," said Makana's aunt Suzanne Kutz.

Makana's full name is Makana Aloha von Gotler, Kutz said. "She's a gift of love," she said, translating her name of Hawaiian origin.

Eighteen search and rescue crews were on Missouri Mountain on Saturday when a military helicopter ferrying rescuers spotted something suspicious at about 12,000 feet. The von Gortlers were found 500 feet above the trail.

The entire family wants to expresss deep gratitude to the countless volunteers, sheriff's deputies, search and rescue personel and members of the air national guard.

"There's no words to thank those people and all of their families because they were literally risking their lives," Kutz said.

Michael von Gortler was an emergency room doctor who often traveled to hospitals in need.

Relatives are requesting donations be made to the Chaffee County Search and Rescue.

The von Gortlers had hiked numerous 14ers together and were considered experienced backcountry travelers.

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