The remains of a 31-year-old man who disappeared after he went on a treasure hunt for $2 million in Colorado have been identified as those of Eric Ashby

By Alexia Fernandez
January 29, 2018 10:14 PM
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A body found in the Arkansas River has been confirmed as Eric Ashby, the 31-year-old man who disappeared after he went on a treasure hunt for $2 million in Colorado.

Ashby disappeared in June 2017 after going on a quest for Forrest Fenn’s gold, an elusive treasure chest allegedly hidden in the Rocky Mountains.

The Fremont County Coroner confirmed the remains were Ashby’s on Friday, according to Fox 21 News. PEOPLE has reached out to the coroner for comment but has yet to hear a response.

The treasure-seeker moved to Colorado Springs in April 2016 in hopes of finding millions, his sister, Lisa Albritton, told ABC News.

Ashby was last seen seeking the fabled treasure on a raft with friends along the Arkansas River on June 28.

“A photographer for the rafting company saw people coming down, having fun, when the raft flipped,” Fremont County Sheriff’s Office sergeant Megan Richards told PEOPLE at the time. “The bystander saw everyone get out of the raft, except for one person struggling and then he lost sight of that person.”

Eric Ashby/Facebook

That photographer called the police, but when officers arrived at the scene, Ashby’s reported friends had left.

Ashby was presumed to have drowned in the incident, Fox 21 Colorado Springs reported. A body was found downstream a month later.

He isn’t the only nature-lover who has gone missing looking for the treasure chest that Fenn, an antiquities dealer and author, claimed to have hidden with $2 million in gold and jewels inside.

In less than eight years since the gold was allegedly hidden, two men have died while searching for the treasure — Grand Junction pastor Paris Wallace was found in New Mexico’s Rio Grande River and Randy Bilyeu’s body was discovered near Sandoval County’s Cochiti Lake along the Rio Grande River.

The legendary box is rumored to be located somewhere in the Rocky Mountains – a cryptic poem in Fenn’s 2010 memoir The Thrill of the Chase hints at the treasure’s secret location.

“I certainly did not anticipate anyone was going to get killed, but I answer those people this way: If a hunter goes into the mountains looking for deer, and is lost, does that mean we should stop deer hunting? If someone drowns in a swimming pool, should we drain the pool, or should we teach people to swim?” Fenn told PEOPLE in 2016.

Fenn has released very few other clues.

“I never said it was buried. I’ve avoided that word. I hid it. I don’t mean to imply that it isn’t buried. I just didn’t want to give that as a clue,” he previously told PEOPLE. “It took me two trips in my car to hide the treasure. And I can tell you an 80-year-old man is not going to make a trip into a canyon, then come up and go down again. As for who else knows, I’m the only one. My wife doesn’t know.”