One dead and another missing in avalanche during Colorado snowmobile trip

Search and rescue efforts began on Saturday but were halted due to adverse weather conditions  (Grand County Search and Rescue)
Search and rescue efforts began on Saturday but were halted due to adverse weather conditions (Grand County Search and Rescue)

One person has died and another is missing after an avalanche on Mount Epworth in Colorado.

Two male snowmobilers became buried in the avalanche on Saturday, Grand County Search and Rescue said.

Search and rescue teams, ski patrols and nearby assisting members of the public were able to recover one of the snowmobilers, a 58-year-old man from Northern Colorado, who was pronounced dead.

Responders in the area located the body through a transceiver worn by the snowmobiler.

The body of the second snowmobiler, who was not wearing a transceiver, has not yet been recovered due to weather and safety concerns.

Rescue teams were assisted by members of the public, including a nearby snowmobile avalanche class (Mike Duffy/Avalanche1.com)
Rescue teams were assisted by members of the public, including a nearby snowmobile avalanche class (Mike Duffy/Avalanche1.com)

Teams will be returning to the area early on Sunday to continue the recovery efforts, authorities said.

Local area officials have said both victims’ next of kin have been informed.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Centre said in a statement: “Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of the people involved in this tragic accident. CAIC staff will visit the accident site on Sunday and we will publish a final report in the next week.”

Avalanches in Colorado have caused the deaths of four individuals in the current tourist season, including one skier and one snowboarder. Two of the recorded deaths have been in Grand County.

Poor light and weather conditions forced rescue teams to abandon the search for the second victim on Saturday (Grand County Search and Rescue)
Poor light and weather conditions forced rescue teams to abandon the search for the second victim on Saturday (Grand County Search and Rescue)

One of the first responders, Mike Duffy, said in a Facebook post, that three snowmobilers were in the group which triggered the avalanche.

Duffy reported that students from the assisting snowmobile class jumped into the water of a nearby lake to recover the body of the first victim, who was wearing a tansceiver.

He also stated that debris was ‘more than 15 feet deep’ in areas.

Members of a motorised avalanche class were the first to respond to the scene which brought debris to areas around the east face of Mount Epworth, Colorado (Mike Duffy/Avalanche1.com)
Members of a motorised avalanche class were the first to respond to the scene which brought debris to areas around the east face of Mount Epworth, Colorado (Mike Duffy/Avalanche1.com)

Grand County sheriff Brett Schroetlin said in a statement: “Unfortunately, this is the second fatal avalanche that we have experienced this season in Grand County. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the victims.”

The National Weather Service reported temperatures in the area below freezing.

The sheriff’s office, Grand County Search and Rescue and coroner’s office will be releasing the identities and cause of death for both men “when appropriate”.