Searches suspended for snowboarders, hiker
ALAMOSA ” High avalanche danger forced suspension of a search Saturday for a Colorado State University employee missing after an avalanche near a peak more than 14,000 feet high.
To the west, authorities called off the search for two snowboarders missing for a week, although ski patrol members at the Wolf Creek ski area and volunteers planned to keep looking for the two.
Alamosa County sheriff’s officials halted the search for Lygon Stevens, 20, because of the high avalanche danger. Undersheriff John Bianca said the only option would be to drop explosives from a helicopter to dislodge the snow, but it would take a while to get the permits and the cloudy weather would make it tough to fly.
Lygon Stevens was hiking about 20 miles east of Alamosa with her brother, Nick, a CSU student, on Little Bear Peak, near the 14,345-foot-high Blanca Peak, when an avalanche hit them Thursday morning near the top of the mountain. Both were experienced climbers.
It took a day for Nick Stevens a day to hike out to where his cell phone would work. He had been hospitalized, but was with friends and family at the search site Saturday about 140 miles south of Denver.
Bianca estimated that the hikers were at about 12,500 feet when the slide occurred. He said the brother and sister were apart when the avalanche hit and Nick Stevens was on the edge of it.
Authorities said the slide was 75 to 100 yards wide and up to 15 feet deep.
The search for missing snowboarders Michael George and Kyle Kerschen, both 27 and from Albuquerque, N.M., has grown in to a missing-persons investigation. The two were reported missing on Jan. 5 and their car was found in the parking lot of the ski area about 170 miles southwest of Denver.
Mineral County Sheriff Fred Hosselkus said his department suspended the search Friday because searchers have found no signs of their whereabouts after seven days. He said he talked to the men’s families and said they understand his decision.
The sheriff’s department has started checking the men’s credit card and cell phone records and contacting law enforcement agencies around the country. Nothing has turned up so far.
George’s father, Marc George, has said the family is beginning to question whether the two men are on the mountain.
A New Mexico state police helicopter flew over the area Saturday, looking for the two. Hosselkus said the Wolf Ski area operator, Davey Pitcher, was on the flight.