The bodies of three missing skiers buried in a backcountry avalanche in the northern San Juan Mountains in Colorado have been found. CBS Denver reports the Office of Emergency Management of San Juan County announced Wednesday night the bodies of Seth Bossung, Andy Jessen and Adam Palmer had been recovered.
Officials say conditions were too treacherous for a helicopter to retrieve the bodies, and they would have to wait until a break in the weather for the helicopter to fly in.
The Town of Eagle and Eagle County released the names of the skiers on Wednesday. Palmer was the sustainability director for Eagle County, Bossung worked with Palmer in the same department and Jessen was the owner of Bonfire Brewery.
OEM officials said crews worked for 12 hours on Wednesday to recover the bodies which were buried under 20 feet of avalanche debris.
"We're just kind of processing this and I think the transition from rescue to recovery has been really hard," said Jeff Shroll, Eagle County Manager. "It's a really good, close knit group of mountain bikers, skiers, kayakers, just outdoorsmen in general."
Shroll knew the men well. He says all three were good friends, and experienced backcountry skiers.
"For me, just being able to rely on Adam, you know for some of our COVID response, that's what Eagle County primarily doing right now is just responding to COVID, and I think about all my different check-ins with my staff, almost every one of those conversations has reminded me, 'oh geez, I got Adam working on that. Oh, crap, I got Adam working on that one too,'" Shroll said. "You know, I think it's just not set in yet. We're just kind of processing this."
There is a gathering planned to remember Bossung on Sunday posted on Facebook.
Four skiers, all part of a larger group, were fully buried in Monday's slide, which occurred in a backcountry area known locally as the Nose, specifically located between the towns of Ophir and Silverton.
The group was able to recover one of the four who survived with minor injuries. It's still unclear what prevented them from reaching the remaining three.
Late Wednesday, Gov. Jared Polis shared his condolences with the skiers' families and community.
"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."