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Longtime Durango search and rescuer dies of heart complications

Leo Lloyd, 60, was a passionate outdoorsman and inspiration to safety crews
Leo Lloyd, Durango resident since 1980 and a longtime practitioner of emergency medicine, died Thursday morning as a result of cardiac issues, said his brother, Joe Lloyd. He has been an EMT, a paramedic, a flight nurse and an EMS captain with the Durango Fire Protection District, as well as an international technical rescue instructor. (Durango Herald file)

Durango resident Leo Lloyd died Thursday morning from heart complications during a bike ride with one of his sons in the Twin Buttes area, according to his family.

He was 60.

Lloyd was an avid athlete, backcountry explorer and all-around outdoorsman. He hiked, ran, biked, rock-climbed, ice-climbed and never did anything halfway, said his brother, Joe Lloyd, owner of the Durango Joes coffee shops.

Leo Lloyd also spent 42 years in emergency services, including Durango Fire Protection District, La Plata County Search and Rescue, and other agencies, his brother said.

“He loved teaching and training people and mentoring people in the search and rescue community,” he said. “That was his passion. ... And making sure people that were stuck in a situation ... were safe.”

DFPD Chief Hal Doughty said Lloyd was well-known in both the EMS and technical rescue communities.

Leo Lloyd in Nepal in 2017, with 22,400-foot Ama Dablam in the background. Lloyd trekked three days into Phortse, where he trained Sherpas at over 13,000 feet in elevation. (Courtesy of Leo Lloyd)

“He had incredible accomplishments when it came to the things he had done both with Durango Fire and La Plata County Search and Rescue,” he said.

He said Lloyd worked for several flight services and served as a helicopter medic for years.

Lloyd also worked for an international rope rescue company called Rigging for Rescue where he provided “worldwide technical rescue training and all kinds of really interesting, tough assignments,” Doughty said, including training U.S. Armed Forces in the San Juan Mountains to prepare them for Afghanistan’s rugged terrain.

Across the last 39 years, Lloyd organized an annual 18-mile loop through the Grand Canyon, he said.

Lloyd was also a family man, his brother said. He loved his three sons and his wife, Susie Lloyd.

Joe Lloyd said his brother always had time for people who wanted to listen to a good story or learn the intricacies of a rope rescue.

“He strived to do the right things,” he said. “I’m so proud to be known as Leo’s brother. ... I’m really going to miss him. This is a guy who passed away way too soon. He had so much more in the tank to give. And that’s why he’ll be missed.”

cburney@durangoherald.com

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