Body of woman who fell in Beaver Creek found |

Body of woman who fell in Beaver Creek found

Steve Lynn
Vail correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

BEAVER CREEK, Colo. ” The body of a prominent Nebraska Realtor was found Thursday after she disappeared in fast-moving Beaver Creek three weeks ago.

Mary Brake, 55, of Lincoln, Neb., disappeared after she fell off a horse while crossing Beaver Creek on June 20.

Brake, her husband ad their daughter were headed to Beano’s Cabin, an upscale restaurant on Beaver Creek Mountain. Rescue teams halted their search for Brake ” though they vowed to find her later ” a little more than three days later. A funeral service for Brake was held the following week.

A Beaver Creek employee spotted an “item” believed to be Brake’s at about 10 a.m. Thursday, and sheriff’s deputies were contacted, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office said. Rescuers worked for about 30 minutes in an area about 20 yards downstream from the point where Brake was last seen and removed her body.

Authorities either didn’t know what the “item” was or declined to comment.

“I know that it was a personal possession that was on her,” sheriff’s office spokeswoman Shannon Cordingly said. “I don’t know exactly what it was.”

The cause of Brake’s death won’t be known until an autopsy is done Friday, said Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis. Authorities declined to comment on Brake’s injuries. An investigation showed that no criminal activity took place, the sheriff’s office said.

Brake had been heading to Beano’s Cabin ” only accessible by horseback, sleigh, tractor-pulled wagon or shuttle ” on a ride led by Beaver Creek Stables, a company that has a permit from the U.S. Forest Service to operate on Beaver Creek Mountain.

Since authorities halted their search, employees from Beaver Creek Resort company had been walking along the creek to search for Brake each morning, authorities said.

Authorities had thoroughly searched the part of the creek where Brake was found before the search was suspended, said John Willson, deputy chief of operations for the Eagle River Fire Protection District, whose firefighters were among rescuers from throughout Colorado who searched almost the entire 3 1/2-mile creek.

Brake had been pinned by debris and rescuers had to saw through bushes to reach her Thursday, Willson said. Her body was found after water levels on the creek dropped about a foot, he said.

Mary Brake’s husband, Gene, released the following statement Thursday afternoon: “The family of Mary Brake is relieved that the authorities in Colorado today were able to find Mary’s body. We lost our dear wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend on June 20, and now we will be able to lay her to rest.

“God bless the Vail Mountain Rescue Team and the Eagle County Sheriff’s Department for their efforts in helping us bring closure to this tragedy.”

Gene Brake said a private family burial service is pending.

Dan Smith, mission coordinator for Vail Mountain Rescue Group, said in a statement, “As we promised, we have completed our commitment to Mary’s family to return her to her home and family.”

“We are proud of our community,” Eagle County Sheriff Joe Hoy added in the statement. “Their heart and spirit guided each one of them to help bring Mary back to her family.”

Vail Resorts was grateful for leadership from the sheriff’s office and help from other agencies and volunteers during the rescue and recovery efforts in the past weeks, said John Garnsey, chief operating officer of Beaver Creek Mountain and executive vice president of Vail Resorts, in a statement.

“On behalf of the Beaver Creek community and Vail Resorts family, we continue to offer our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Mary Brake for this tragic accident,” Garnsey said in the statement. “We are relieved that the recovery effort was successful, and we hope that this will allow Mary’s family to begin healing.”

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