Friends help recover body of snowboarder near Berthoud Pass
A search for snowboarder Jeff Miller, 26, spanning nearly three days, ended Wednesday when searchers located his body at 10:20 a.m. in the area where Miller was last seen below the “fingers” of Berthoud Pass, according to a press release from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office.
Cause of death has not yet been confirmed pending a coroner’s investigation.
Among those who used a shovel to help remove snow to ultimately uncover Miller’s body were his longest-standing and best friends from Oklahoma, according to close friend Katie Looby, former Winter Park resident and former Sky-Hi News reporter who now lives in Denver.
“We all want him back,” Looby said. “I’ve never met anyone up here who didn’t know Jeff Miller and didn’t love him.”
Miller was passionate about snowboarding, loved girlfriend Bruhna Adriguti, and worked at Smokin’ Moe’s in Winter Park.
He was an expert snowboarder and often took to the terrain on Berthoud Pass, no matter the season. He would hike up in the summer and build jumps and took part in hut overnights. “He loved Berthoud,” Looby said.
Miller was snowboarding during a powerful winter storm Monday on the pass with friend Nick James, 29, and Miller’s German shepherd Beau. James last saw the dog and Miller behind him above a small slide James had triggered, according to Grand County Sheriff Rod Johnson.
Beau was found dead near Miller’s body.
Search teams initially utilized a search and rescue dog as well as a Recco device, which assists rescue teams in locating possible burials.
On Wednesday, search and rescue personnel from the Front Range and dozens of volunteers joined the effort.
Friends called Miller a “big talker,” Looby said, saying he loved to communicate with anyone and have a good time.
Many of Miller’s friends took part in the search.
A large network of friends organized, making sure everyone among them had beacons, probes, snowshoes and boots. Meanwhile, Winter Park restaurants such as Smokin’ Moe’s and Rise and Shine catered food for them.
“Everyone came together for Jeff. He was really loved,” Looby said.
“It breaks everyone’s heart that we couldn’t find him alive.”
Looby said she had once heard Miller say that the best way to die would be while doing something he loved.