Three backcountry skiers killed in Colorado avalanche

Searchers in Colorado on Wednesday recovered three skiers who were buried in an avalanche two days before.

Seth Bossung, Andy Jessen and Adam Palmer died in Monday’s avalanche near Silverton, the town and county of Eagle said in a statement.

The three were recovered and must be removed by helicopter and taken to a medical examiner’s office for positive identification, San Juan County emergency officials said.

The town and county of Eagle said they had permission from the victims’ families to release their names so they could be mourned. All three worked for or were involved in county and town government.

“Our hearts are heavy with the loss of these three men,” the town and county of Eagle said in a joint statement.

The avalanche happened Monday between the towns of Silverton and Ophir in an area known as “The Nose,” according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. The town of Eagle is about 100 miles northeast of the area.

Four people in the backcountry skiing group were buried, but one was rescued with only minor injuries.

Rescue personnel work to locate and recover the bodies of three skiers who were buried in 20 plus feet of avalanche debris at the Ophir Pass in Silverton, Colo., on Feb. 3, 2021.Office of Emergency Management, San Juan County Colorado

A search effort was launched, and the skiers were recovered Wednesday, according to San Juan County emergency officials.

They had beacons that helped crews find them. They were found buried in more than 20 feet of avalanche debris, the San Juan County Office of Emergency Management said in a statement.

The avalanche happened in an area known as middle fork of Mineral Creek, and involved it released on a northeast-facing slope at around 11,500 feet in elevation, which is near the tree line, according to the avalanche center’s report.

Jessen was the mayor pro tem for Eagle Town Council; Palmer was a council member who was also Eagle County’s sustainable communities director; and Bossung was an energy efficiency project manager for the county and an architect, officials said.

Jessen also owned a brewery, Bonfire Brewing, in Eagle, and all three lived in Eagle County, which is northeast of Silverton, officials 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 town and county of Eagle said in the statement.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis joined those mourning the loss of the three men.

“Those tragically lost in this avalanche were pillars of their community, public servants and friends to many. My thoughts are with their families, friends, and the Eagle County community during what must be a heart-wrenching and unimaginable moment,” Polis said in a statement.

The governor also said that the state is experiencing a particularly dangerous avalanche season and encouraged people to stay informed of conditions.

In the 2020-2021 season, before Monday’s avalanche, four people had been killed in avalanches in Colorado, according to the avalanche information center’s website.

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