Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee reported the body of an adult male was found in the middle of a road in Cave Valley, March 17.
The man, later identified as 54-year-old Steven Hutchinson of Blythe, California, was found that evening by some people traveling through the area.
Cave Valley is in the upper northwest corner of Lincoln County and extends into White Pine County.
Lee said the dispatch center received a call about 6:15 p.m., reporting the finding of the body with no vehicle in sight.
Two officers were sent to investigate, assessed the scene and had the body taken to the mortuary in Caliente. The deputies recovered some identification and by checking with a database, determined the man had been reported missing from Blythe, California, since March 7.
Hutchinson’s body was taken March 19 to the Clark County Coroner’s office for an autopsy to determine the cause of death. According to family members who drove to Las Vegas to make the positive identification, he was a teacher at a correctional institution in his area. But the family had no idea why he had gone to Nevada.
A search for the vehicle Hutchinson was driving, a white Toyota Rav4, was conducted March 18 by officers from the Bureau of Land Management and Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department. The vehicle was found at the Patterson Pass Road-Cave Valley junction, about three miles from where the body was found.
Lee speculated Hutchinson drove up U.S. 93 to the Patterson Pass Road “and took that road heading west. If you follow that road and up over the mountains, the very first road you come to [Cave Valley] was the general area where he was found.”
The snow on the road had melted, Lee said, “but it appears to us, he drove in there, got stuck, spent an undetermined amount of time in the vehicle until it ran out of gas and then headed out on foot, only getting about three miles before succumbing to the elements.”
Weeks prior to this, Lee noted, the area had been covered by heavy snow and rain, with nighttime temperatures believed to be in the low teens and single digits and daytime highs in the low 40s at best. “We think Hutchinson was likely surrounded by up to a foot of snow at some point. There is no cell service in the area, and he had left his cell phone back in Blythe when he went missing.”
Lee added, “It’s possible he drove in on the Patterson Road where the snow was not that much, then started up toward Patterson Pass and got stuck at the intersection with the Cave Valley road. It’s such a remote area in the winter, it appears he was just caught out and died of exposure, as there were no signs of trauma. He was wearing a jacket, but his footwear was not suited for snow conditions.”
He also said it is not completely certain Hutchinson had indeed come from the south on 93. “It’s possible to come in from the east on SR 318 on Shingle Pass. Or he might also have been up north and gone through Horse and Cattle camp. We don’t know why he was in the area as there are no known family connections around here.”
Lee said the Cave Valley area was also the place where a few years ago a woman was rescued by searchers after getting separated from friends and going missing for a few days.