Deaf school campers go missing for several hours | AspenTimes.com

Deaf school campers go missing for several hours

Naomi Havlen

Two teenage campers from the Aspen Camp School for the Deaf who went missing Thursday morning in the Capitol Creek wilderness were found unharmed several hours later .The 13-year-old boys, both hearing impaired, had been on an overnight trip with a group from the school to Capitol Lake near Old Snowmass on Wednesday when their counselors noticed they weren’t around while the group took down its camp about 10 a.m. The counselors searched in the area for more than an hour. Finding no one, they sent two members of their group to hike back to the trailhead and notify authorities.Pitkin County Deputy John Armstrong said the hikers encountered John Howe, owner of Capitol Creek Outfitters, taking a group on a horseback-riding trip and asked him for help. Armstrong said one of the campers explained the situation to Howe in sign language, and his companion translated the sign language to Howe.Howe was able to call the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office and Armstrong contacted Mountain Rescue Aspen. The emergency personnel gathered at the Capitol Lake trailhead while one member of Mountain Rescue Aspen, Bruce Gordon, volunteered his time flying over the area to search for the boys.Mountain Rescue Aspen also had four members begin up the trail toward Capitol Lake but learned within 15 minutes, at around 3:30 p.m., that the teens had been found with another group of campers in the area. Armstrong said it was unclear if this second group of campers was related to the Camp School for the Deaf.The two boys told their counselors that they had left the group to explore a snowfield in the area. Their campground was one and a half miles below Capitol Lake, and the teens were found seven miles from the trailhead.”They were not going according to the regulations, the responsibility that the camp puts on them,” Armstrong said of the two missing campers. “They cannot hear, so they are told not to be out of ‘sign shot,’ not out of the camp counselors’ sight where they can’t communicate. It’s really important when they’re out in the woods.”Armstrong said the boys were unharmed but probably hungry and “in the doghouse.”Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com