Hunt continues for two snowboarders, third person missing in avalanche |

Hunt continues for two snowboarders, third person missing in avalanche

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

CREEDE, Colo. ” The Wolf Creek Ski Patrol and at least one helicopter resumed the search Friday for two snowboarders missing for nearly a week in the southwest Colorado mountains.

A third person was reported missing after an avalanche in southern Colorado.

Michael George and Kyle Kerschen were reported missing on Jan. 5 near the Wolf Creek ski resort about 170 miles southwest of Denver. Both are 27 and both are from Albuquerque, N.M.

Their car was found in the ski area’s parking lot.

George’s father, Marc George, said the family is beginning to question whether the two men are on the mountain.

“For two healthy young men to disappear without a trace doesn’t make sense,” he said. “It might be time to start thinking about foul play.”

Mineral County Sheriff Fred Hosselkus said his agency began a missing-persons investigation Thursday, checking credit card and cell phone records and contacting law enforcement agencies around the country. Nothing has turned up so far.

“We haven’t seen any evidence that they are on the mountain,” Hosselkus said. “That’s our first assumption, but we can’t rule out other ways they might have disappeared.”

Hosselkus asked anyone who may have seen the men before they disappeared to contact authorities. Sheriff’s spokeswoman Sandy Kroll said missing-person fliers were being distributed in surrounding communities, and skiers and others were asked to look for any sign of them.

Kroll said Hosselkus has not said how long the search would continue. The men’s families have asked authorities to keep looking.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson on Friday ordered state police to send their helicopter and 40 search-and-rescue members to assist with the search. He said Hosselkus had accepted the help.

“I want to ensure that we are all doing all we can possibly do to assist law enforcement with this urgent search,” Richardson said.

The search has been hampered by bad weather, including a storm that dropped up to 4 feet of snow. Another inch of snow was expected Friday, with temperatures in the 20s.

Authorities in Alamosa County said a man reported his sister was missing after they were hit by an avalanche Thursday morning near 14,345-foot-high Blanca Peak, about 140 miles south of Denver.

Crews on snowmobiles were only able to get to within 5 miles of the site but had to turn back because of deep snow, Alamosa County Undersheriff Maj. John L. Bianca said. A helicopter sent to the site forced back because of high winds.

The search was to continue Saturday.

The brother was taken to a hospital but the extent of his injuries wasn’t immediately known. He had to hike out to get within mobile-phone range to alert authorities.

Bianca identified the man as Nick Stevens of Loveland. He did not immediately know the name of the missing woman.

It was unclear whether Nick Stevens was hiking with his sister, Lygon. The brother-sister team in May scaled Alaska’s Mount McKinley, North America’s highest peak, with a nonprofit organization called Climbing for Christ, according to The Daily Reporter-Herald.

The newspaper said Nick is a Colorado State University student studying economics, and Lygon is a music student at the University of Northern Colorado. Both have extensive climbing experience, having scaled Colorado fourteeners and other peaks around the country. Nick works for Laramie-based Solid Rock Outdoor Ministries, and Lygon has climbed the tallest mountain in Ecuador, the newspaper reported.

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