Searchers recover bodies of 2 killed in Colorado avalanche

Posted at 6:50 PM, Feb 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-16 18:50:17-05

VAIL, Colo. (AP) -- Searchers have recovered the bodies of two Colorado men who died after being caught in a weekend avalanche in central Colorado, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center reported Sunday.

Three men were riding snowbikes Saturday afternoon when they were caught in the slide about 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of Vail. One man was able to dig himself out and called for help at about 4:45 p.m, the Eagle County Sheriff's Office said.

The other men were carried into a gully at the bottom of a drainage area, avalanche debris piled up deeply and they were fully buried, the Avalanche Information Center said in a statement.

Hunter Schleper of Vail told KCNC-TV that he and his friends dug for five hours trying to find the victims. Schleper posted on Facebook that they located the riders under 20 feet (6 meters) of snow. But Vail Mountain Rescue told them to stop their efforts Saturday evening because of low visibility and avalanche danger.

The Eagle County Sheriff's Office announced a "search and recovery mission" Sunday morning. The bodies were recovered on Sunday, the avalanche center said. The sheriff's office identified the victims as Dillon Block, 28, and Cesar Almanza-Hernandez, 30, both of Gypsum.

Four people have died in avalanches in Colorado this winter, the center said.