Local law enforcement escorted the body of U.S. Marine Corps Pfc. Christopher Hutchings on Thursday, Feb. 16. Hutchings, who had been stationed at Camp Pendleton in Southern California, was found dead in his barracks on Feb. 5.

Major Mason Englehart, the Director of Communication Strategy and Operations for the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, confirmed Tuesday, Feb. 21, that Hutchings was pronounced deceased in his barracks at Camp Pendleton in Southern California on Feb. 5. He was assigned to Marine Wing Support Squadron 372, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

“His death is still under investigation at this time and a cause of death has not been released,” Maj. Englehart said. “We take all loss of life very seriously and extend our deepest condolences to those affected.

“PFC Hutchings was a valued member of the MWSS-372 Diamondbacks family and is missed greatly,” he said via email.

Hutchings’ death is currently being investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service as well as the Armed Forces Medical Examiner. Investigation is routine in the case of non-combat, medically unattended deaths of Department of the Navy service members.

“Out of respect for the investigative process, NCIS will not comment further while the investigation remains ongoing,” Englehart said.

On Feb. 16, Buena Vista residents lined Main Street as local law enforcement brought Hutchings home.

“One of the blessings of living in a small town is that when something like this happens, a whole community will come out to show their love and support, even if it means standing in freezing temperatures,” wrote the BV Police Department in a post after the escort. “These are the people who knew Chris and loved him, the people who just last year stood in the bleachers and cheered for him. Chris...this is your town still cheering for you.”

Standout athlete

Hutchings wrestled as a freshman in the state championship tournament in 2019 along with brothers Carlos and Isaac.

Hutchings advanced to four consecutive state championship wrestling matches and helped the Demons win the first of three consecutive regional championships as a junior in 2021. He finished Top 8 at state his senior year.

He was also a cross country runner for the Demons.

Sunday callout

A funeral with full military honors for Hutchings will be held at 1 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 26, in the school gymnasium.

The Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office reports the procession from the sheriff’s office in Salida will start around 12:30 p.m., proceed westbound on W. Third Street to Colo. 291, turn northbound on 291 and then northbound on U.S. Highway 285 to Buena Vista.

The procession will proceed eastbound on Main Street and southbound on S. Railroad Street to Buena Vista High School for the services.

“We are asking citizens to line the routes waving either the U.S. flag or U.S. Marine Corps flags to assist in honoring this young Marine,” wrote the CCSO on its Facebook page. “Our thoughts are with Christopher’s family and friends as they go through this difficult time.”

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