Colorado avalanche buries 3 backcountry skiers under 20 feet of debris, officials recover bodies

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Colorado avalanche buries 3 backcountry skiers under 20 feet of debris, officials recover bodies

The bodies of three skiers buried in an avalanche in Colorado's backcountry have been recovered and identified, officials said Wednesday.The skiers

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The bodies of three skiers buried in an avalanche in Colorado’s backcountry have been recovered and identified, officials said Wednesday.

The skiers were part of a group that triggered the avalanche on Monday in the North San Juan Mountain Zone located between the towns of Silverton and Ophir, an area locally known as The Nose, the San Juan County Office of Emergency Management said.

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A fourth skier was also caught in the slide and fully buried, according to officials. Members of the ski group rescued the skier, who suffered minor injuries.

Crews faced treacherous conditions and increased avalanche activity on the mountain that impeded the recovery operation for nearly two days, the agency said.

Crews reached the area on Wednesday and “worked all day from 6:00AM to 6:00PM” to find the missing skiers, officials said. The skiers were wearing beacons which enabled rescuers to locate their bodies underneath more than 20 feet of avalanche debris.

While the agency has not yet officially released the names of the skiers, the Eagle County Government released a statement identifying them as Seth Bossung, Andy Jessen and Adam Palmer, all prominent members of the local community.

“Our hearts are heavy with the loss of these three men,” the statement said. “Their contributions through their work in local government and local businesses, as well as their personal passions and their impact on the friends and family members they leave behind, have helped shape the community in ways that will be forever lasting.”

The Colorado Sun reported that Bossung managed projects for the county’s energy efficiency department; Jessen was the owner of Bonfire Brewery; and Palmer, a member of the county’s Board of Trustees, directed the sustainable communities program.

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San Juan County rescue officials said that poor weather prevented crews from immediately transferring the bodies of the men off the mountain via helicopter. When conditions clear, a helicopter will transport the bodies to the San Juan County coroner’s office.

Emergency officials warned of the “unpredictable” dangers of avalanche activity in the backcountry, urging those who venture out to check avalanche conditions and be properly equipped beforehand.

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