Authorities call off field search for George Aldrich
December 11, 2010
ASPEN – Field operations for missing Snowmass Village man George Aldrich have been discontinued indefinitely, local authorities said during a news conference Friday in Aspen.
“The decision to do so was made by the Incident Management Team and agency heads at the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, Aspen Police Department and Snowmass Police Department,” said Alex Burchetta, sheriff’s office spokesman.
Burchetta said while the field search has been halted, the investigation would continue. Anyone with information that may shed light on Aldrich’s disappearance is urged to call a tip line at (970) 315-2103.
“I would like to make it perfectly clear that the operation is not over. We are not stopping and our efforts to locate George Aldrich will not cease,” the sheriff’s spokesman said.
Burchetta said the field search had been under way for the past 12 days, ever since the 28-year-old Aldrich was reported missing Nov. 29. On Friday, the effort continued, with a bloodhound team from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and two foot teams from Garfield County Search and Rescue and Mountain Rescue Aspen targeting areas along the Highway 82 corridor from the Catherine Store to the Pitkin/Eagle County line.
Also on Friday, officers with the Snowmass Police Department and members of the Aspen Skiing Co. searched Divide Way/County Road 11 from Krabloonik to the Snowmass Creek road closure. As was the case with a massive search Thursday involving 38 volunteers, a helicopter, area law-enforcement personnel, a search dog and a remote-operated vehicle working in an underwater pond at Snowmass Club Golf Course, Friday’s efforts revealed no new information or evidence.
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Aldrich, a native of Rhode Island, was last seen the night of Nov. 27, disembarking a late-evening RFTA bus at the Truscott stop after hanging out with friends for a few hours at Eric’s Bar in Aspen. Friends and family have said that his drinking was not excessive – anywhere from two to five beers – and that he left the bar before 10 p.m. because he wanted to go home.
His father, George Aldrich Sr., attended Friday’s news conference and thanked area law-enforcement agencies as well as the entire community for helping with the search and expressing their concern. He has been in Aspen since Nov. 30, along with two of his sons and family friends, spreading information about George Jr.’s disappearance and meeting with investigators on a daily basis. He plans to return home to Rhode Island and his family on Tuesday.
The younger Aldrich had been living in Snowmass Village since early November. He was working as a lift operator for the Aspen Skiing Co. and enjoying life in the Aspen area, a place he loved since first coming to the area while a college student in Denver four years ago.
“With the job market the way it is, he decided to come out here from Newport and get a job during the winter, with the goal of trying to break into marketing with [Skico],” said his older brother, Sean Aldrich, 36. “He loved this area and he loved snowboarding.”
The missing-person case has attracted national attention, with CNN’s Headline News and news outlets in Colorado and Rhode Island taking an interest in the story.
Earlier this week, a bloodhound picked up Aldrich’s scent near the Aspen Country Inn but the trail stopped suddenly. One theory is that Aldrich departed the bus at Truscott on the edge of town, which was not his destination, and then may have taken another bus, walked or hitchhiked away from the area.
But speculation in the community runs rampant – all that is definitively known is that he got off the bus at Truscott and voiced his displeasure that it was the wrong stop to another departing passenger.
Burchetta said he could not elaborate on any leads received in the case.
“I’ve told everybody here how grateful I am (for their help),” said George Aldrich Sr. at the news conference, which included representatives of the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, Aspen Police Department and Mountain Rescue Aspen.
“Do I wish I knew where my son was? Yes. I’ve been guaranteed that even people out on the street are going to keep looking and will keep an eye out for him,” Aldrich said.