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Woman who died hiking to Conundrum hot springs may have had symptoms of altitude sickness days before death

By: DANIKA WORTHINGTON, The Denver Post
September 8, 2017 Updated: September 9, 2017 at 7:25 am
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Susie DeForest (Facebook photo via Aspen Times)

A 20-year-old Pennsylvania woman who fell ill while hiking Conundrum Creek Trail near Aspen died in her campsite of high-altitude pulmonary and cerebral edema, the Pitkin County Coroner said Friday.

Susanna “Susie” DeForest, who was hiking with friends, likely began developing symptoms of high-altitude pulmonary edema, or HAPE, when she was staying in Dillon — altitude 9,111 feet — on Aug. 15 and 16, “as it commonly develops on the second or third day at altitudes above 6,600 feet when it occurs,” corner Dr. Steve Ayers wrote in his report.

DeForest reportedly spent a day in Golden, then three days in Dillon before traveling on Aug. 17 to Pitkin County, where she died in a campsite at 10,367 feet.

HAPE and high-altitude cerebral edema, or HACE, both can be insidious and mimic other illnesses, the coroner’s office said.

But DeForest may not have recognized the signs of altitude sickness, Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Alex Burchetta said. She died either the night of Aug. 17 or the morning of Aug. 18.

Read more at denverpost.com

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