BLM copes with death of Yuma colleague
The Bureau of Land Management brought in counselors Thursday to help its Yuma field office employees deal with the loss of a colleague who died the day before in an apparent fall in a rugged area north of Yuma.
The body of the employee, whose name and job description were not disclosed as of Thursday night, was found in the Little Picacho Wilderness Area following search and rescue effort by several law enforcement agencies of more than five hours. Little Picacho Wilderness Area is located in California, approximately 20 miles north of Yuma.
The initial investigation shows the man died from an apparent fall in rugged terrain, the BLM said.
"It's tough, you know," said Lori Cook, BLM spokeswoman in Yuma. "I've worked 14 years here, and we've had employees die but never employees in their official capacity."
The name of employee was still being withheld Thursday afternoon pending notification of family members, she said, adding that information was expected to be released today.
The employee's job description or duties at the time of death also were not immediately disclosed Thursday out of concern that that information could prematurely identify him, she said.
Cook sought to dispel an unfounded rumor that the employee's death was somehow related to a prescribed burn that took part earlier in the day in the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge. Although the BLM took part in the controlled fire to remove nonnative vegetation from the refuge, she said, the employee was not involved in that project and was nowhere near it.
As the Imperial County Sheriff's Office investigated the death Thursday, Cook said counselors were brought in to help field office employees cope with the loss of a fellow employee.
"We're trying to take care of our own as well," she said.
Law enforcement personnel from BLM, Imperial County Sheriff's Office and U.S. Border Patrol searched several hours before a Border Patrol helicopter spotted the body at approximately 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, the BLM said.