Woman reportedly swept away by Colo. slide | VailDaily.com

Woman reportedly swept away by Colo. slide

DENVER, Colorado – Rescue crews were searching Friday for a woman who was reportedly swept away by an avalanche near 14,345-foot Blanca Peak in southern Colorado.

In southwestern Colorado, searchers continued to hunt for two New Mexico snowboarders missing since last weekend in heavy snow. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson ordered a state patrol helicopter to assist in the search.

Authorities in Alamosa County said a man reported his sister was missing after they were hit by an avalanche Thursday near Blanca Peak, about 140 miles south of Denver.

Ground crews were searching for the woman but a helicopter was forced back because of high winds, Alamosa County sheriff’s spokeswoman Carol Orton said.

The brother was taken to a hospital but the extent of his injuries wasn’t immediately known. He had to hike out to get within mobile-phone range to alert authorities, Orton said.

No names had been released.

In Mineral County, up to 40 people on skis and snowmobiles and a search helicopter were looking for Michael George and Kyle Kerschen, who were reported missing on Jan. 5.

The two men, both 27 and both from Albuquerque, N.M., disappeared after they went snowboarding at the Wolf Creek ski resort about 170 miles southwest of Denver. Their car was found in the ski area’s parking lot.

George’s father, Marc, said the family is beginning to question whether the two men are on the mountain.

“For two healthy young men to disappear without a trace doesn’t make sense,” he said. “It might be time to start thinking about foul play.”

Sheriff Fred Hosselkus said his agency began a missing-persons investigation Thursday, checking credit card and cell phone records and contacting law enforcement agencies around the country. Nothing has turned up so far.

“We haven’t seen any evidence that they are on the mountain,” Hosselkus said. “That’s our first assumption, but we can’t rule out other ways they might have disappeared.”

Kroll said Hosselkus has not said how long the search would continue. The men’s families have asked authorities to keep looking.

Richardson said Hosselkus had agreed to allow the New Mexico State Patrol helicopter to participate.

“I want to ensure that we are all doing all we can possibly do to assist law enforcement with this urgent search,” Richardson said.

Kroll said the air search was grounded later Friday by bad weather.

Winter storms have repeatedly hampered the search. Kroll said more than 6 1/2 feet of snow have fallen at the ski area since Saturday.

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