U.S. Forest Service Lookout Dies in N.M. Horse Mishap

A U.S. Fire Service lookout was found dead by search and rescue personnel along a charred trail. It appears the horse may have lost its footing and fell, pinning the lookout against a tree.


June 10--U.S. Forest Service officials on Tuesday confirmed the death of a Gila National Forest employee whose body was found Sunday morning next to his dead horse along a trail in the national forest.

John Kavchar, 64, a resident of Silver City, was riding out from the Signal Peak tower after his shift as a lookout ended about 7 p.m. Saturday. It was believed that he had gone for a horseback ride before returning to a trailer he stayed in while working in the forest, said Gila National Forest supervisor Kelly Russell.

When he didn't report for work Sunday, a search for him was initiated by Forest Service colleagues and New Mexico State Police search and rescue personnel, Russell said.

Kavchar and his horse were both found dead along the trail, according to State Police Sgt. Damyan Brown. The ground in the area was loose, unstable and charred due to the recent 5,500-acre Signal Fire north of Silver City.

It appeared the horse lost its footing and fell, pinning Kavchar against a tree and causing him to die from related blunt force injuries, Brown said. It was not clear what the horse had died from, he added.

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