Beaver Creek search becomes recovery effort |

Beaver Creek search becomes recovery effort

Melanie Wong
Vail correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
A search crew probes Beaver Creek on Sunday for signs of Mary Brake, who disappeared in the creek Friday. (Courtesy of Eagle County Sheriff's Office)

BEAVER CREEK, Colo. ” Nine-year-old Bayley Brake sent flowers down Beaver Creek, where she had last seen her mother, Mary Brake, before the current swept her away.

Mary Brake, 56, was a prominent Lincoln, Neb., Realtor who disappeared down the creek after her horse fell into the rising waters Friday evening.

Search and rescue crews have been working since then. As of Sunday morning, the search officially became a “recovery effort” for a body instead of a rescue effort, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

“She’s not going to be alive when we find her,” said Eagle County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Shannon Cordingly. “Our hearts and prayers go out to the family of the victim.”

Search crews wrapped up their operations Sunday evening and were planning to resume the search at 7 a.m. Monday.

High and fast-moving waters have made the search dangerous and difficult, Cordingly said.

Mounted horse-patrol and water-rescue crews combed 3.5 miles of the creek from where Brake was last seen. Search and rescue dogs searched spots where they picked up the woman’s scent but were unable to find her.

The area also was searched by boat by Clear Creek County Search and Rescue and from the air by the Colorado National Guard High Altitude Aviation Training Center.

The victim’s family released a letter Sunday thanking rescue crews for their efforts.

Mary Brake and her family were on their way to Beano’s Cabin, an upscale restaurant only accessible by horseback, sleigh, tractor-pulled wagon or shuttle, when her horse lost its footing in the creek.

Cordingly said the victim was able to hold onto the saddle for a few minutes before she was washed away. The horse was recovered downstream with minor injuries.

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 website.

“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.

Mary Brake’s husband and daughter have been joined by their two sons and some of their extended family in Colorado, according to the Journal-Star.

Friends remembered Mary Brake as an outgoing, athletic person with a successful career who was always ready to help people.

She was very active, waking up before light in the winter to go to the gym and riding for miles on her bike in the summer, said Scott Stewart, a family friend.

She also enjoyed swimming and riding horses with her daughter.

“It was impossible to keep up with Mary,” Stewart said.

She was also quick to throw a party and help out her friends in their business ventures, he said.

“She was always looking out for somebody else and helping others. Mary was everywhere, juggling everything,” he said.

Mary Brake was one of eight children and very dedicated to her family, according to her family’s letter.

“As tragic and difficult as this is, we will always remember Mary and celebrate each moment of life as she did,” the letter said.