University, friends respond to death of CSU student Brian Perri

Erik Petrovich

After nearly a month of searching, the body of Colorado State University student Brian Perri was found in Rocky National Park near the summit of Mount Meeker July 28, according to RMNP officials.

Perri’s body was found after rangers responded to a SPOT device activation by another hiker July 28. Park officials located the body in an especially rugged area that was difficult to get to, near where search efforts were taking place, according to a press release from RMNP. 

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The Boulder County Coroner’s Office will confirm the identification of the body and release the cause and date of death after an autopsy is completed. However, according to the RMNP press release, officials believe Perri took an approximate 25 to 40 foot tumbling fall and appears to have died instantly.

CSU released a statement expressing condolences upon hearing the news of Perri’s death, written by Public Safety and Risk Communications Manager Dell Rae Ciaravola.

“Like everyone, we hoped for a different outcome in the search for Brian, and it is with sadness that we receive the news of his death,” Ciaravola wrote in the statement. “Our thoughts are with all who are impacted by this loss, and we extend our deepest and heartfelt sympathy to Brian’s family and friends.”

Perri had sent a picture of himself at the top of Mount Meeker in RMNP to a friend during a hike celebrating the completion of his master’s thesis. The search for Perri began July 5 after he did not return on June 30 as he had planned.

After rangers were notified of the missing man, six days after he was expected back, they located Perri’s car in the parking lot at the Sandbeach Lake Trailhead, according to the RMNP release.

Extensive search efforts began the evening of July 5, and encompassed significant sections of 22.5 square miles above tree line as well as forested areas. The majority of the search area was in rugged and remote terrain with loose rock, steep ridges, and exposed cliffs, on ridge lines and couloirs. The area was searched by helicopters, ground searchers, dog teams, and unmanned aerial vehicle reconnaissance. 

The steep terrain, angle, sheer size of the rocks and boulders as well as the coloring of his tan and green clothing made it extremely difficult to see him, according to park officials.

Perri was originally from Pennsylvania and came to CSU for the health sciences program. He walked the podium at graduation this year and was due to receive his master’s degree in radiological and health sciences from CSU in December. According to his close friend JC Fischer, who was in the same master’s program as Perri, his thesis project looked into the Fukushima disaster and the effect of radiation on cataracts.

Fischer said he was Perri’s best friend, and that the two had known each other for more than two years at Colorado State. They first met at an office on campus, and according to Fischer, spent nearly every day at each other’s houses after day one.

“This guy, who I’ve never seen before, walks into the office, holding a giant oscilloscope under his arm,” Fischer said. “I’m like, ‘hey what is that,’ then he said it was $30 – how could you not?”

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Perri loved the outdoors, and spent much of his free time hiking and enjoying the natural world. During his time in Colorado he notably climbed six fourteeners and hiked the Devil’s Backbone to Horsetooth trail.

“If he was considered an avid hiker, I was an amateur,” Fischer said. “In the over two years I knew him, I never saw him sad or upset when he was hiking.”

During his time at CSU, Perri also received the arduous Certified Health Professional certification and had been considering post-graduation positions at both UC Health and Penn State, according to friends.

Fischer said that Perri’s family and friends searched the park every day for hours on end, in addition to many strangers who simply wanted to help the effort. He estimated that the volunteers and rescue teams walked a total of over 250 miles during the search.

“Pretty much every day I had five to 20 strangers that were on that mountain, eagerly listening to what I had to say,” Fischer said.

RMNP rangers and mountain search and rescue teams worked with volunteers to find Perri and, in the end, to bring his body back to the family. A GoFundMe page started and maintained by Fischer’s girlfriend raised nearly $10,000 to aid in the search, while Fischer helped organize volunteers and hiked the mountain with strangers and family alike.

“I am just glad he died doing the thing he loved most,” Fischer said. “It’s the greatest treasure the world has to offer.”

Collegian news reporter Erik Petrovich can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @EAPetrovich