UPDATE: Lake County Sheriff’s Office confirms two fatalities from Saturday’s avalanche
TWIN LAKES — The Lake County Sheriff's Office has confirmed two fatalities stemming from an avalanche Saturday, Feb. 15, according to the Lake County Office of Emergency Management's Facebook page. The Lake County Sheriff's Office announced it would not yet release the identities of any of the seven skiers involved in the avalanche that slid at about 5 p.m. yesterday on the Twin Lakes side of Independence Pass, including the two victims found at about 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 16. Among the participating agencies in the search and rescue effort were the Lake County Sheriff's Office, the Lake County Emergency Manager, Lake County Public Works, St. Vincent Hospital EMS, Leadville/Lake County Fire and Rescue, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, Colorado Rapid Avalanche Deployment and Lake County Search and Rescue teams. Three members of the Summit County Rescue Group also participated in search and rescue efforts, said public information officer Charles Pitman. According to reports from the Lake County Office of Emergency Management, the seven skiers were near the top of a ridge when they activated the avalanche about one mile from the LaPlata parking area along Colorado Highway 82. Three people were taken to the hospital in Leadville with injuries that included a broken leg, a broken ankle and a possible broken rib and collapsed lung. Two others were unharmed. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center said the slide was large and at or near tree line in an area popular for snow recreation activities. The avalanche did not reach the road, and a team from the Colorado Department of Transportation was expected to arrive Sunday morning to conduct an assessment and determine a way to clear the area. Calls to CDOT have not yet been returned. This story will be updated as more information becomes available.