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Hypothermia, medical condition may have led to death of motorcyclist in Utah County canyon

Posted at 10:42 AM, May 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-09 19:59:03-04

MAPLETON, Utah — A missing 65-year-old man was found dead Monday after crews with the Utah National Guard and Utah County Sheriff's Office located his motorcycle earlier in the day in Mapleton Canyon.

Officials have not said how or when Blake Dean Baxter died, but authorities believe hypothermia and a medical condition may have been factors in his death.

Baxter had gone out on a ride at 2 p.m. Sunday and was reported missing after he had last contacted family later in the evening. Weather hampered the initial search which began around 9:40 p.m.

"Based on the conditions, based on the fact that we didn't think he was dressed for the conditions, we wanted to get people up in that area looking for him so we can provide some help," said Erik Knutzen with the Utah County Sheriff's Office.

The search was called off due to conditions and dropping temperatures.

"I imagine it was in the teens, and to survive that with light clothing on, he had also been riding his motorcycle I'm guessing for probably a considerable amount of time, so he could have been fatigued, could have been dehydrated there's a lot of factors," added Knutzen.

Early Monday, Baxter's motorcycle and other items were located at an elevation of 8,200 feet. After the motorcycle was located, a Utah National Guard Black Hawk helicopter was used to assist in the search, along with other search and rescue teams and groups of volunteers.

"We get a lot of people in the community that belong to these volunteer programs; they want to help and they came out to help on this one," Knutzen said.

Detectives are continuing their investigation to determine how Baxter died.

With Utah's weather able to change drastically in just minutes, search and rescue officials offered a warning to those out who travel into the mountains and canyons.

"It happens commonly around Utah County," explained Knutzen. "You start out with a beautiful day in the 50s, maybe even in the 60s, but when the sun goes down, it's a significant drop and you may end up on trails up in the mountain that are covered in ice."

Location where motorcycle found