Bruce Dejong, 58, from Northern Colorado and his next-door neighbor 52-year-old Darrin Kaderka, were killed after getting caught up in an avalanche while snowmobiling on Corona Pass in the area of Mount Epworth and Deadman Lake.
The Grand County Sheriff’s Office said an avalanche was reported on Corona Pass around 2:15 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 7 and the initial report said two snowmobilers had become buried.
Rescuers located Dejong and performed life-saving measures but were unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
“From what I’ve been told, the avalanche started above them, and it kind of swept them down the mountain and onto the lake,” said Jennifer Kaderka, Darrin’s wife.
A search and rescue effort was launched for Kaderka Saturday but the team was unable to locate him and a recovery effort continued on Sunday. Kaderka’s body was discovered around 11 a.m. by the recovery team.
Jennifer Kaderka says both men were experienced snowmobilers and not risk-takers.
“If they had had any inkling that the face was unstable, they would not have been there. They were not those kinds of snowmobilers,” she said.
Officials warn of dangerous avalanche conditions
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center is warning anyone planning on recreating in the high country to be aware and prepared for dangerous avalanche conditions after four people have been killed in avalanches over the few weeks.
“Dangerous avalanche conditions will last through the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend,” Director of the CAIC Ethan Greene said.
Early and excessive snowfall has piled up on Colorado mountain passes and peaks which has become unstable and created avalanche-type conditions.
“We have seen more avalanches this year than we do on a typical year, and recently they’ve gotten much bigger,” Greene said. “We want everyone to enjoy the wonderful public lands in Colorado, and go home alive and well to their family and friends on Monday. We need everyone headed into the backcountry to plan their trip carefully and make sure they avoid avalanche hazards. We need to stop this deadly trend.”