Bodies of Two More Avalanche Victims Recovered
More than 250 searchers using long poles to probe the deep snow across an avalanche recovered two more bodies Thursday and continued searching for at least one more missing skier, authorities said.
All three victims of the avalanche were men, and their bodies were found in one area of the steep slope. The first body was found less than three hours after the avalanche occurred Wednesday.
“We have developed information that a fourth victim is involved in the slide. We have shifted our emphasis to the other side of the slide,” Summit County Sheriff Delbert Ewoldt said.
A helicopter dropped explosives to release loose snow that could cause more avalanches on Peak 7, a steep slope north of the Breckenridge ski area, before the searchers headed out Thursday.
The snow slide that thundered down the mountain cut a half-mile swath and left a 40-foot-long fissure where it broke loose in the Arapahoe National Forest about 65 miles west of Denver.
One of the volunteers searching for victims Thursday was Mike Tyack, a 31-year-old South African who said he missed joining the doomed ski party when he was unexpectedly called to work as a bartender at one of the area resorts.
“I was meant to be with them at the top of the peak but I got called to work 10 or 15 minutes earlier,” he said. “I’m thankful, but I’m also sad for the others.”
The area was marked dangerous and out-of-bounds, but Tyack said some skiers disregard warnings because “it’s a challenge. It’s deep powder, and the guys get pretty bored just skiing the runs. We’re all aware of the risks.”
Tyack’s friend, Tim Kirkland, an Australian, outran the avalanche and identified others in his party who apparently did not escape.
Ski Under Ropes
He said the group saw the out-of-bounds signs and “skied under the ropes without stopping” because the steep area “looked attractive.”
He said Nick Casey, 23, of Cambridge, New Zealand, lost a ski and the rest of the group waited for him to reattach the binding.
“We were sitting in the snow when one guy right away yelled, ‘Avalanche!’ It looked like a huge cloud coming down,” Kirkland said. “All we could do is stand up and try to ski out of it. I’m the only one who did.”
He identified another member of the party as Paul Way, 23, of Auckland, New Zealand.
Summit County Undersheriff Gary Lindstrom confirmed that Way was the second victim found and that Casey was the third.
Summit County Coroner Marty Flohrs said the body found Wednesday was that of Martin Donnellan, 21, of Peekskill, N.Y.