The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Tuesday what the family has known for four days: The human remains found in the Mount Herman area Dec. 12 were of 20-year-old Kevin Rudnicki.

The cause and manner of his death have not been determined, the office said in a news release.

Rudnicki, a University of Wyoming junior who grew up in Palmer Lake, had been missing since he went for a hike Sept. 2.

He last was seen hiking along Trail 715 in the Limbaugh Canyon area, where he ran into one of his former middle school teachers.

After his disappearance, dozens of volunteers helped county Search and Rescue crews search on foot and using helicopters and drones. Rudnicki’s family led an informal search party.

His remains were found near Balanced Road and Forest Service Road 322 during one of those searches.

His mother, Melissa Reynolds Bass, responded on the Help Find Kevin Rudnicki Facebook page, saying, “We are so grateful to have him back.”

His stepfather, Bill Bass, said the family felt “a combination of relief and sadness.”

“We were really ready for some kind of closure. We were very worried that we’d never find it, so we felt very, very fortunate that he was found,” he said previously.

His stepfather, Bill Bass, said the family felt “a combination of relief and sadness.”

“We were really ready for some kind of closure. We were very worried that we’d never find it, so we felt very, very fortunate that he was found,” he said previously.

Bass said the family never lost hope that Rudnicki would be found alive.

“You never know until you find him,” he said. “You know, you hang onto things, like the possibility that he just took off and maybe he’ll return, although we didn’t feel really strongly about that. … I guess we’re still in a little bit of a transition where it’s just hitting us and we’re just kind of moving on to the next phase.”

Rudnicki was very familiar with hiking routes through the Mount Herman area, his mother said after he disappeared. He’d spent the past six or seven years hiking in Pike National Forest near Palmer Lake and making trail maps.

He was studying watershed management and wanted to work for the U.S. Forest Service after graduation. He previously graduated from Palmer Ridge High School, where he ran track and cross-country.

“We would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Mr. Rudnicki,” the Sheriff’s Office news release said. “We would also like to thank the El Paso County Search and Rescue and countless citizens that volunteered to help with the search for Mr. Rudnicki.”

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