Worth the risk | SteamboatToday.com

Worth the risk

Despite advice, group headed out to find missing friends

— A group of friends risked their own lives Thursday night to find seven snowmobilers who had been missing since Wednesday, Routt County Search and Rescue officials said Friday.

“(The) friends put their own lives at risk to find them,” Routt County Search and Rescue incident commander Darrel Levingston said. “It was a natural reaction, because to them, in their hearts, their friends’ lives were at risk.”

Such a reaction is common in the family members and friends of missing persons, he said.

The seven missing snowmobilers included six Colorado Mountain College students and one of their 16-year-old brothers. The group headed out on snowmobiles Wednesday but never returned. The spent Wednesday night in the elements, and it looked like they would be forced to do the same Thursday night until the search party found them at about 9 p.m. Levingston said the men were wet but uninjured when they were found. Two of the men had some outdoor survival experience, and one was training to become a snowmobile tour guide.

When contacted by telephone Friday, one of the missing men said he was sore but otherwise OK.

Two of the missing snowmobilers, Kevin Neuwirth and Reese Morter, are employees of High Mountain Snowmobile Tours.

Marcia Cobb, who owns High Mountain Snow-mobile Tours and Steamboat Snow-mobile Tours with her husband, Jason, said the group of seven men had permission to use the sleds.

“They definitely were not on a tour, but using our snowmobiles is a benefit for working for us,” she said Friday.

Search and Rescue officials postponed the search Thursday night at about 8 p.m. because of darkness and heavy snow. But several of the missing group’s friends insisted on heading out to continue the search, contrary to the advice of Search and Rescue members.

They found the group at about 9 p.m. in the Silver City Creek Meadows area between Dome Peak and Farwell Mountain in North Routt County.

“Our guys said there was no way they were going to stop until they found them,” Cobb said. “It wasn’t too long after that, that they were found.”

Levingston said he was confident Search and Rescue crews would have found the group early Friday when the search resumed.

“It would have had a good outcome, because we would have started at 7 a.m., and they were in the very first place we were going to look,” he said.

– To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234 or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

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