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Avalanche victim was New Castle man

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colo. ” Authorities confirmed the identity of a man who died in a midday avalanche Friday, while friends praised him as a kindhearted man whom they miss.

Douglas Ray Davis, 45, of New Castle, was snowmobiling on the road going through Little Box Canyon north of Rifle when he was killed by an avalanche.

“I wish I could have been there, but there was probably nothing a guy could have done,” said Donnie Smith, who’s known Davis since they grew up in New Castle. “It just doesn’t seem real. … I cry. I think about it. It goes away. Then, you know, you get a memory of him. I got pictures of him on the wall. Pictures of him holding my children.”

Smith said Davis was snowmobiling behind a couple of friends from Arizona. Smith wasn’t there Friday but related the account of events he’s heard. Davis was following the couple on the groomed road when the avalanche hit.

“There was a slide and there was no Doug,” Smith said.

Friends said Davis was an expert rider.

“Doug and I have done a lot of things that were worse than that,” said Larry Thrun, who’s been friends with Davis since about 1988. “It’s just a real unfortunate thing.”

“It was a fluke,” Smith said. “He was going down a groomed trail. … Usually we’d be stuck vertical underneath a cornice where it could happen, where it should happen.”

There was some speculation that a snowcat that had groomed the trail just before they snowmobiled it was somehow related to the avalanche.

“Little Box is a bad area,” Smith said. “The groomer went through there and was actually grooming the trail and a slight vibration or something caused it to break loose.”

According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, Davis was the fifth to die in an avalanche in Colorado this year. On average, six die from avalanches each year in Colorado. The center said the avalanche danger below treeline in the area Friday was “moderate,” which means human-triggered avalanches are possible.

Smith and Thrun described Davis as a great friend, husband and father of two young children. Davis was self-employed and did concrete work. Fishing was one of the other activities Davis enjoyed. Smith said Davis just purchased a brand new fishing boat and got sponsored to go on the professional bass circuit ” a lifelong dream of Davis’.

“He was kindhearted,” Smith said. “He’d do anything for you. Bend over backwards for you. He was just always there if you needed something. He touched a lot of people.”

“I’m going to miss floating down the Roaring Fork River with him,” Thrun said. “He was just a great friend. Always there. Always had that big smile and those big bright blue eyes. Just a real caring individual.”

pfowler@postindependent.com


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