Eagle County, town of Eagle release avalanche victims’ names
With heavy hearts, community is mourning the loss of Seth Bossung, Andy Jessen and Adam Palmer
Eagle County and the town of Eagle released a joint statement Wednesday afternoon identifying the three missing locals caught in an avalanche near Silverton on Monday as Seth Bossung, Andy Jessen and Adam Palmer.
“While an official announcement has not yet been made by our partners in San Juan County, the families of Seth Bossung, Andy Jessen and Adam Palmer are allowing us to share their names so we can all openly acknowledge their deaths and grieve together. The families are surrounded by loved ones, and we are asking everyone to respect their wishes as to when and how they wish to communicate with others,” the statement reads.
The statement continues: “Our hearts are heavy with the loss of these three men. Their contributions through their work in local government and local businesses, as well as their personal passions and their impact on the friends and family members they leave behind, have helped shape the community in ways that will be forever lasting. Every single one of us in both of our organizations has learned by their examples, and we are grateful to be able to call them colleagues.”
Bossung and Palmer were both Eagle County employees. Palmer worked as director of the county’s Sustainable Communities program, while Bossung worked as the county’s energy efficiency project manager.
Jessen was a co-founder of Bonfire Brewing in Eagle. The business opened in November 2010 and quickly grew into a popular microbrewery and community gathering place.
Palmer and Jessen were both elected to the Eagle Town Council in recent years. Jessen was elected in April 2018 and served as mayor pro tem. Palmer was elected in April 2020.
Bossung, Jessen and Palmer were among the four local backcountry skiers caught and buried by a large avalanche Monday afternoon in an area known as “The Nose” between Silverton and Ophir. Other members of the group not caught by the avalanche were able to find and dig out one of the four men, who was recovered with minor injuries. Bossung, Jessen and Palmer remained missing.
Search and rescue operations started Monday evening and continued late into the night. They resumed Tuesday morning but were hampered by dangerous conditions. After a 12-hour day for ground teams on Wednesday, San Juan County officials announced they successfully extracted the three missing skiers, who were buried in 20-plus feet of avalanche debris. All three were wearing avalanche beacons, which helped searchers locate them. A helicopter retrieval of the skiers will now be required, when conditions allow, to transport them to the San Juan County coroner’s office for positive identification.
Eagle County Manager Jeff Shroll said the situation “is not yet real” for many county and town employees, himself included. “This cuts deep throughout the community. These guys were so involved,” Shroll said.
Eagle Mayor Scott Turnipseed echoed that sentiment. “Andy, Adam and Seth were great men and they had great hearts,” Turnipseed said. “This is a real blow to the community, losing them as community members and losing the vision they had for the town.”
As the community continues to await official announcements from the avalanche site, and grapple with the loss of three of its own, Turnipseed noted that Eagle pulls together during tragic times such as these.
That view was reflected in the joint statement issued by the town and county on Wednesday, which concluded by saying: “The strength of our community is rooted in our shared love for this place and the people who live here. Andy, Adam and Seth exemplified this every day. Please find ways to come together safely and share your stories of them and others. We will do the same.”
Turnipseed also wanted to recognize the ongoing recovery efforts underway near Silverton. “The people of Eagle want to send our sincerest thanks to the emergency workers in San Juan County. We know they have been working tirelessly on this sad mission and we are so grateful for their dedication,” he said.
In their statement, the county and town encouraged people to reach out and access available resources to help with trauma and mental health challenges that may come with their grieving. A list of local organizations and providers can be found at eaglevalleybh.org/get-help-now, and financial assistance is available through Olivia’s Fund for anyone who may need it.
Bossung and Palmer were both fathers, and Eagle County Schools announced Wednesday that extra grief counselors will be on hand at schools most closely connected to the families. The district encouraged students and staff who are struggling to seek support.
“The loss of three amazing and vibrant community members this week to the avalanche in Silverton has left us with heavy hearts and deep sadness,” Superintendent Philip Qualman wrote in an email to school district staff and families.
“Many of our staff have personal connections with the families involved. We loved and appreciated the men who were lost, teach and cherish their children, and grieve with their significant others and families. Because they were so involved in our community, this tragedy is widely felt. But, we also have the community to support one another as we process and heal,” Qualman said.
Unrelated to the county, town and school district announcements, donation pages have been set up on the website GoFundMe, where people can make financial contributions and offer messages of support for the families of Bossung, Jessen and Palmer during this difficult time.
Pam Boyd contributed reporting.
Tom Lotshaw can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.