FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 22, 2023
SEARCH EFFORTS CONTINUE FOR MISSING WOMAN FROM FLORIDA
GRAND COUNTY, CO- Since the search for Svetlana Ustimenko, a missing and endangered woman in her mid-fifties from Florida began on August 11, 2023, a tremendous amount of time and resources have been dedicated to try and locate her.
The rental car that Svetlana Ustimenko had rented was discovered by the Grand County Sheriff’s Office and a United States Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer during the week of July 31, 2023, after being parked at the Deadhorse Trailhead area off of Grand County Road 73, near the Town of Fraser, in the Arapaho National Forest for an extended period of time with no signs of recent activity. Through additional investigation by the Forest Service, it was determined that this vehicle was scheduled to be returned to the rental car company on August 10, 2023. After the August 10 return deadline had not been met, the vehicle was still located at the trailhead. Working with the rental car company and the woman’s family, officers were able to then determine that the vehicle was related to Svetlana Ustimenko.
On the evening of August 11, officers began searching the area around where the rental car was located which led to subsequent searches on August 12 and 13. An extensive search was completed on August 13 with the assistance of Grand County Search and Rescue along with Front Range Rescue Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs of the United States (SARDUS), and Colorado Search and Rescue.
On Friday, August 18, Grand County Search and Rescue completed a three-hour small reconnaissance search. On Sunday, August 20, an extensive search was completed with the assistance of Grand County Search and Rescue, Front Range Rescue Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs of the United States (SARDUS), and Colorado Search and Rescue that included over 25 people along with 6 cadaver Human Remains Detection (HRD) dogs. This was the second full day search conducted that yielded no clues or signs of Svetlana. Grand County Search and Rescue has a high degree of confidence that Svetlana is not within the primary search area.
Despite the use of ground rescuers both on and off-trail in difficult terrain with steep slopes, deadfall and thick brush, the use of multiple dog teams, Sheriff’s Office Investigators covering terrain on horseback, and aerial assets (drones) on multiple days throughout the last week, we have still been unsuccessful in locating Svetlana Ustimenko. Grand County Search and Rescue has estimated that around 750+ volunteer hours in addition to other law enforcement staffing have been devoted to the search efforts.
Until additional clues or information surfaces, the search has been suspended by the Sheriff’s Office. Grand County Search and Rescue may conduct small scale operations in areas they may determine to be of higher probability.
The Sheriff’s Office has been in close contact with Svetlana’s family in Florida as well as working with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office in Florida who initiated this missing person case. Sadly, the family has shared that Svetlana had been diagnosed with a terminal illness, was struggling as she tried to cope and was attracted to the Colorado mountains.
Sheriff Brett Schroetlin shared, “This case highlights the incredible work and dedication of our professional Search and Rescue volunteers from Grand County and our surrounding entities. The family and I are very grateful to them for their courageous efforts.”
The Deadhorse Trailhead area is commonly used by hikers, mountain bikers and other recreational enthusiasts and our team is hoping to speak with anyone who may have seen Svetlana, talked to her, or possibly given her a ride to a different area. The search and investigation for this missing woman is ongoing. If you have seen Svetlana Ustimenko please call the non-emergency phone number for Dispatch at 970-725-3311.