Military investigating ‘suspicious’ death of former standout Colorado high school wrestler turned marine

Chaffee County prepares to honor marine who died Feb. 5.
Published: Feb. 17, 2023 at 12:33 PM MST|Updated: Feb. 17, 2023 at 6:11 PM MST
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CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colo. (KKTV) - Christopher Hutchings graduated high school early in order to join the U.S. Marines, leaving for boot camp in 2022. On Feb. 5 he was found dead inside his barracks at Camp Pendleton in California and sources tell 11 News his death is considered suspicious.

11 News confirmed Friday that the Armed Forces Medical Examiner is handling the death investigation alongside the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).

Thursday night, law enforcement escorted Hutchings back to Chaffee County where people lined local roads waving flags and honoring the former standout Buena Vista High School wrestler. At the state wrestling tournament going on in Denver now, his former teammates and coaches are wearing Hutchings name on their practice uniforms and family members told 11 News other special honors are being planned for the tournament on Saturday.

As the investigation into the circumstances surrounding Hutchings death continues, a memorial service is planned with a fully escorted procession through Chaffee County Feb. 26.

“I can confirm that PFC Christopher Hutchings was pronounced deceased in his barracks on Sunday, February 5th,” Major Mason Englehart, the Director of Communication Strategy and Operations for the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing wrote to 11 News. “He was assigned to Marine Wing Support Squadron 372, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton. His death is still under investigation at this time and a cause of death has not been released. We take all loss of life very seriously and extend our deepest condolences to those affected.”

NCIS is investigating.

The Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office posted the following to Facebook:

“Christopher Hutchings, a young Marine from our area recently passed away. His funeral services, with full military honor, will be held in Buena Vista on Sunday February 26th. Local emergency responders will participate in a procession to honor him. The response vehicles will leave the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office in Salida at approximately 12:30pm proceeding westbound on W 3rd St to Highway 291, northbound on Highway 291 then northbound on Highway 285 to Buena Vista, eastbound on Main Street and southbound on S Railroad St to the Buena Vista High School for the services. We are asking citizens to line the routes waving either the US Flag or US Marine Corp Flags to assist in honoring this young Marine.. Our thoughts are with Christopher’s family and friends as they go thru this difficult time.”

The Buena Vista Police Department also shared their condolences, including a video taken by a community member of a procession for Hutchings Thursday night:

Video taken by one of our good citizens tonight, when we brought US Marine Christopher "Chris" Hutchings home. One of...

Posted by Buena Vista Police, Colorado on Thursday, February 16, 2023