Woman vanishes in Beaver Creek | VailDaily.com

Woman vanishes in Beaver Creek

Matt Zalaznick
Vail, CO Colorado

BEAVER CREEK, Colorado ” Tomorrow morning rescue crews will continue the search for the body of a 56-year-old woman who fell off a horse and into Beaver Creek on Friday. According to the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, the operation has been termed a recovery, and no longer a rescue.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to the family of the victim,” said Eagle County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Shannon Cordingly this morning.

Rescuers suspended the search for Mary Brake ” a prominent Lincoln, Neb., Realtor ” this evening. The search will continue at 7 a.m. Monday morning.

“Right now the water’s working against us,” Cordingly said Saturday. “It’s been high and moving so fast there are areas in the middle of the creek that we can’t check until it goes down.”

“Because the water’s moving at such a high rate of speed, it’s dangerous,” Cordingly said. “If one of our guys falls in, it isn’t an easy self-rescue.”

Not only is the creek full of rocks, but the surging water has dragged small trees into the creek, she said.

“We’ve checked from the point the woman fell of the horse all the way down to the confluence of the Eagle as well as multiple hotspots, multiple times,” Cordingly said.

By “hotspots,” Cordingly was referring to parts of the creek where search dogs, which sniffed articles of Brake’s clothing, picked up a scent but could not lead rescuers to the woman.

Brake’s husband, Gene, is the president of HomeServices of Nebraska, which owns the dominant real estate firms in Lincoln ” Home Real Estate and Woods Bros. Realty ” the Lincoln Journal-Star reported on its Web site.

“The current of the water was so quick that before Gene (Brake) knew it, (Mary) was down,” Mike Elgert, of Home Real Estate, told the Lincoln Journal-Star. “He made it sound like she went, actually, over a waterfall.”

Elgert, managing broker for Home Real Estate, told the Lincoln Journal-Star he spoke to Gene Brake on Saturday morning.

“Much has transpired since then,” Elgert told the Lincoln Journal-Star. “(Gene) simply said what everybody knows ” that they have not yet found her.”

Mary Brake, along with her husband and daughter, was riding the horse to dinner at Beano’s Cabin with her family when the horse lost its footing around 6 p.m.

“The female was able to hold on to a saddle for three minutes, and then she was washed downstream,” Cordingly said. “It’s a good thing no one from the group jumped in because then we’d be looking for more people.”

Callie Kenyon, a family friend, said she heard from family members at the scene that Mary Brake was able to hold on to branches before she was swept away.

“She was able to fight from what they saw,” Kenyon said.

Spotty cell-phone coverage in the area where Mary Brake disappeared prevented the group from calling for help immediately, Cordingly said.

Brake’s husband and daughter remain in Colorado and have been joined by some members of her extended family, the Lincoln Journal-Star reported.

Officials initially reported that the horse was euthanized, but later they said they recovered the horse farther downstream and that it had only minor injuries.

The horses have been doing tours to the restaurant since June 7, and there weren’t any unusual or unsafe conditions Friday, but the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office is investigating, Cordingly said.

Beano’s Cabin is an upscale restaurant on Beaver Creek Mountain that is only accessible by horseback, sleigh, tractor-pulled wagon or shuttle.

The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, Vail Mountain Rescue, Clear Creek Search and Rescue, Summit County Search and Rescue, Colorado National Guard, Eastern Eagle County Ambulance, and Beaver Creek Mountain crews are working together on the rescue operation.

Managing Editor Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 970-748-2926 or mzalaznick@vaildaily.com.

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