Teen who died in fall ID’d as aspiring SEAL
The 17-year-old who died in a fall from the First Flatiron Sunday was from Minnesota and was visiting friends in Longmont.
The Boulder County Coroner’s Office identified the teen Wednesday as Carter Christensen of Maple Grove, Minn.
The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office said Christensen was free-soloing — climbing alone, without the use of ropes or gear — on the First Flatiron on Sunday when he fell possibly more than 100 feet and suffered “massive traumatic injuries.”
Nobody witnessed the fall, but several people in the area heard it and responded to help. Rescuers discovered Christensen near the bottom of the First Flatiron. He was unconscious, without a pulse and not breathing. He was declared dead at the scene.
Christensen posted a picture on Instagram from near the top of the First Flatiron shortly before the fall was reported by a hiker at 6 p.m., but investigators were not immediately sure whether taking the photo was related to his fall.
According to a statement from his family, Christensen, a recent high school graduate, was visiting friends in Longmont before enlisting in the Navy with hopes of becoming a SEAL.
“Carter was a lover of the outdoors and an adventurous spirit and was experiencing joy in summiting the First Flatiron in Chautauqua Park,” the family said in its statement. “Carter will be loved and missed by all of his family and friends.”
Christensen had climbing experience and had been up the Flatirons, but he had never reached the top of the First Flatiron before, his friend Michael Kelley said.
Kelly said he saw Christensen the day before his death and said Christensen didn’t mention anything about a climb.
“The only way we knew he was up there was because of the photo,” Kelly said of the Instagram posting. “I just think he woke up in the morning and was needing something to do.”
Kelly said the friend Christensen was staying with called Sunday night to say he hadn’t heard from Christensen all day. One friend called police while Kelly headed from Berthoud to Boulder.
“I saw the picture, so I knew where he had been,” Kelly said. “But when I got there, there was a police officer already waiting.
“My friend had already talked to him, and he came up and all he could say was, ‘He’s dead.’ ”
Christensen’s family asked the Boulder County Coroner’s Office to release the photo he took during that last climb when officials publicly identified him on Wednesday.
Kelly said Christensen originally was from Minnesota, but he moved to Longmont and lived there from fourth grade until high school.
While he wound up moving back to Minnesota, he still thought of himself as a Coloradan.
“He was definitely a native,” Kelly said. “I don’t know how to explain it. He knew the mountains better than anyone. He loved those mountains.”