CLEAR CREEK COUNTY, Colo. -- Search efforts are underway after a Denver preschool teacher was reported missing.
Peter McInerney, 65, was last seen back country skiing at Jones Pass on the afternoon of Feb. 18.
McInerney is a longtime preschool teacher at Park Hill Children’s Center.
His friends say he’s the heart of the center and has positively impacted hundreds of students.
“It was like family from the first moment,” McInerney's close friend, Mila Tempels, said.
Tempels still adores her daughter’s 2013 preschool teacher.
“I call him Peter Pan sometimes. He’s a magical character,” Tempels said.
The halls of the Park Hill Children’s Center show a man wearing mismatched knee-high socks to let students know it’s OK to be different.
“You give them a solid base for a life with confidence and a desire for adventure,” Tempels said as she read out loud a thank you note she wrote to McInerney.
The Tempels family has become close friends with McInerney. They went skiing with him in the past, at the very place he went missing.
“I’ve met him up there, skiing alone, and that has always made me worried," Tempels said.
The school worried, too, when McInerney did not report to work Tuesday.
School executive director Sherri Seirmarco said in his many years at the school, McInerney never so much has been late for a day of school.
Search and rescue crews immediately scoured the area. The Tempels jumped on their snowmobiles to search too.
“It’s a big, big area and if you fall behind a tree or even just fall in the snow, it’s impossible to see a person,” Tempels said.
Seirmarco said with each day that passes, search crews believe it’s unlikely McInerney would have survived the elements.
“At this point, Peter is still considered legally missing. However, sadly it is presumed to be a recovery situation," she said.
“Certain people in the world make the world better and he’s one of them,” Tempels said.
The Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate. It has been officially requested that community assistance be discouraged.
The Alpine Search and Rescue team is planning another search later this week when weather permits.
Meanwhile, the school is asking anyone who cares to share stories or photos of McInerney to drop them off at the center or email the Park Hill Children's Center.