Searchers find skeletal remains in Vail’s Back Bowls believed to be missing Chinese man
Items found at the scene are consistent with those described by the family of 55-year-old Yunlong Chen
VAIL — A massive search effort appears to have been successful in locating the remains of Yulong Chen, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office reported over the weekend.
A release issued by the department Saturday night said skeletal remains discovered in the Back Bowls of the Vail Mountain ski area are believed to be Chen’s.
“Items found at the scene are consistent with those described by Mr. Chen’s family to have been with him at the time that he was last seen,” the sheriff’s office reported.
Missing since February
Chen, 55, has been missing since Feb. 28; his last known activity was a few lift scans at Vail. Officials suspected he would be found somewhere on the mountain and other search efforts were organized earlier this year, without success.
Part of the delay in finding Chen stems from the fact that nobody in Vail realized he was missing until March 10.
Chen, who was known to be a bit loose on his schedule, was traveling alone on a ski vacation and was scheduled to fly to British Columbia after Vail. But he wasn’t reported missing until his family realized he had not returned home to China after the British Columbia leg of his vacation would have ended.
“That may have caused some of the delay in reporting,” said Eagle County Sheriff’s Detective Aaron Veldheer, who was working the case.
Another complicating factor was the massive amount of snow Vail was receiving at the time. The snow stake at Vail recorded 57 inches of snowfall from Feb. 28, when he disappeared, to March 10, when word of his disappearance reached Vail.
Not the first search
Efforts to find Chen ensued, but none were as large as Saturday’s, which involved a who’s who of various search and rescue agencies.
The sheriff’s office said other agencies involved in Saturday’s effort include Vail Mountain Rescue Group, Vail Ski Patrol, Eagle County Government, Vail Resorts, El Paso County Search and Rescue Group, Mesa County Search and Rescue Group, Chaffiee County Search and Rescue Group, Summit County Search and Rescue Group, Boulder Rescue Squad, Eagle County Coroner’s Office, Colorado Search and Rescue Association, Front Rand Rescue Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs of Colorado, Eagle County Paramedic Services and the Vail Public Safety Communications Center.
No cause of death has been issued at this time. The Eagle County Coroner’s Office will be handling the investigation to positively identify the remains and the cause of death.
Facing traffic woes and oncoming growth, officials are looking at road improvements.