Snowmobiler dies on church outing |

Snowmobiler dies on church outing

Donna Daniels

The 14-year-old El Jebel girl killed in a snowmobiling accident on Sunday was part of a youth group from the Church at Carbondale that was snowmobiling in the area.

The accident occurred at about 2:30 p.m. Sunday in Four Mile Park, a popular snowmobiling area about three miles east of Sunlight Mountain Resort outside Glenwood Springs. Catherine “Cat” Ophoff was killed when the machine she was driving crashed into a barbed-wire fence that was buried in the snow.

Ophoff veered off the trail before hitting the fence, according to Garfield County sheriff’s officials.

She suffered massive neck and facial injuries and died at the scene. She was pronounced dead at 3:25 p.m.

Ophoff was the daughter of Kevin and Rachel Ophoff of El Jebel and a sophomore at Bridges High School, an alternative high school program within the Roaring Fork School District.

A memorial service is planned Wednesday at 5 p.m. in the Roaring Fork High School auditorium.

“This has come as an incredible shock to all of us,” said Doug Self, pastor of the Church at Carbondale.

He remembered Catherine as an enthusiastic member of the church. “Catherine jumped right into the programs,” he said. She recently completed a mission to an Indian reservation in Arizona, and was active in the church youth group.

Church members gathered with Catherine’s parents Sunday at the Valley View Hospital chapel in Glenwood, where there were many “hugs, tears and prayers,” Self said. “Her parents want the memorial service to be expressive of Catherine’s very exuberant faith.”

What makes this inexpressible tragedy bearable, what gives them “comfort and hope to carry on is that she is present with God,” Self said. “It was her lifelong passion and now it is her eternal passion.”

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