Meeker teen dies in avalanche
Sheriff’s Office says 19-year-old found under 15 feet of snow
February 21, 2011
Meeker — A Meeker teenager who had been trapped by an avalanche in the Routt National Forest on Sunday afternoon was found dead Monday.
James Sizemore, 19, was found under 15 feet of snow about 200 yards from the top of the avalanche, Rio Blanco County Sheriff's Office deputies reported.
A search dog from Summit County found Sizemore at about 1:50 p.m. He was pronounced dead at about 2 p.m.
He went missing Sunday afternoon when he and a friend were snowmobiling in the Sand Peak area north of the Flat Tops Wilderness Area. Sizemore's snowmobile became stuck just before the avalanche engulfed him, Rio Blanco County Undersheriff Michael Joos told the Denver Post.
Sizemore's riding companion, who wasn't swept up in the avalanche, searched for him for about 45 minutes before calling Sizemore's father. Sizemore's father reported the incident to authorities at about 3 p.m. Sunday.
A search began Sunday but was called off at about 8 p.m. because of safety concerns. On Monday morning, a search crew that numbered 60 used explosives to mitigate the avalanche danger before resuming their efforts.
Members of the Routt County Search and Rescue team were among those who went to the area to help.
The large avalanche area was estimated to be 4 feet deep, 400 feet wide and 300 feet long. Its debris field reached a depth of 25 feet.
It is thought to be the fourth avalanche fatality in Colorado this winter, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. The avalanche danger is "considerable" in the Steamboat Springs area for northwest, north, northeast, east and southeast aspects. Strong winds have created dangerous slabs, according to the CAIC. It advises backcountry users to be particularly cautious on all slopes steeper than 30 degrees.