After a man was found dead in the park, Big Bend Ranch State Park Superintendent Rod Trevizo said he hopes future visitors exercise caution when hiking alone.
Trevizo said it’s the first time in his 33 years that anyone has died in his park, and he said people should use common sense when going into the park alone with a self-registration.
“When you’re on your own and way out there, you need to think if something happens, how can they find me?” he said.
Clifford Kocher, a 58-year-old Alpine man, was found dead Saturday after a seven-day search was conducted by his friends, volunteers, Border Patrol Agents, Texas Game Wardens, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department employees, local law enforcement and the Texas Rangers.
Trevizo said the man is suspected to have entered the park with a one-day pass on Dec. 25, but did not leave any indication as to where he was going in the park.
Trevizo said Border Patrol agents begin investigations whenever vehicles are left in the park for more than a few days, and that is what happened in this case.
“We started wondering because that car was parked on the side of the road,” he said. “Eventually we were able to contact the (car) company there in Alpine.”
Kocher’s landlord then called concerned that the man had been gone for so long, Trevizo said, at which point they discovered he was a recreational day hiker.
Trevizo said they assembled about 40 people from the community on Jan. 6 to begin the search.
“We covered on the first sweep that we did for him about 20 miles or so,” he said. “We did a sweep to see if we could encounter him.”
They also had help from a Department of Public Safety helicopter and an airplane provided by the Big Bend National Park.
It was two friends of Kocher’s, who had requested to help with his search on Jan. 12, who eventually found him later that same day a few miles away from Lajitas near a canyon.
“The body was inspected there by the officer and nothing seemed out of place,” Trevizo said. “He wasn’t attacked by an animal; he didn’t have broken limbs or scratches.”