Colorado avalanche was third deadly avalanche in a week

Colorado avalanche on Saturday killed two skiers from Wisconsin and hospitalized three others. Officials had warned of avalanche dangers after two weeks of heavy snows.

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Two skiers killed in a large avalanche in Colorado came from a small town in south central Wisconsin, relatives and colleagues said Monday.

Three other skiers were hospitalized following Saturday's avalanche near Leadville, Colo. Rescue crews found the two skiers' bodies Sunday afternoon near Independence Pass, about 80 miles southwest of Denver, the Lake County Sheriff's Office said.

Saturday's avalanche was the third deadly slide in Colorado in less than a week, authorities said Sunday.

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Susan Matthews, a spokeswoman for the Lake County Office of Emergency Management, said seven skiers on Star Mountain near Leadville triggered the latest slide at about 5 p.m. Saturday.

"They were found near the top of the avalanche and they had beacons on, which really helped a lot," Matthews said. "The terrain there is extremely steep."

Three skiers were hospitalized with injuries that included a broken leg, a broken ankle, and a possible broken rib and collapsed lung. One has since been discharged from the hospital.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center had been warning of dangerous conditions across much of Colorado's mountains after two weeks of heavy snow that lured backcountry skiers and snowboarders to the high country.

Robert Lentz said his son, Justin Lentz, of Portage, was one of those killed in the avalanche. The 32-year-old Lentz loved to ski and started when he was 5 or 6 years old, his father said. Lentz said his son "was a good kid" who worked as an electrician and was engaged to be married.

Another Portage man, Jarrard Law, 34, was also killed. Necedah Area School District Superintendent Larry Gierach says Law was an "incredible man."

"Jarrard had great skills with people and was an integral part of our planning when it came to technology," Gierach said. Many staff members thought of him as a friend first and as a professional second, the superintendent said.

The school district planned to make grief counselors available to faculty and students.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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