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Snowboarder, 67, likely died in avalanche outside of Ophir, sheriff's office says

This marks the first avalanche-related fatality of the 2023-2024 season, according to CAIC
San Miguel County Sheriff's Office_sar rescue
Posted at 1:10 PM, Jan 23, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-23 15:14:59-05

SAN MIGUEL COUNTY, Colo. — A 67-year-old snowboarder was found deceased in the San Miguel County backcountry on Tuesday morning and authorities said they believed he was injured in an avalanche.

The San Miguel County Sheriff's Office said Dr. Peter Harrelson, a longtime Ophir resident, had been snowboarding in the backcountry, around the Waterfall Creek area of Ophir, on Monday and did not return home. Friends alerted authorities to the overdue snowboarder and a rescue mission launched Monday evening, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

The efforts continued through the night. Friends tried to follow his tracks but were not successful, CAIC said.

Missing skier may have been caught in avalanche, sheriff's office says

On Tuesday morning, search and rescue continued its search.

At 10:05 a.m., the sheriff's office posted on Facebook that Harrelson had been found deceased "from what is believed to be traumatic injuries suffered in an avalanche."

"On behalf of all of us at the Sheriff's Office and our Search and Rescue team, I would like to express our condolences to the family and friends of this gentleman," said San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters. "I'd also like to thank our SAR team for their work in this inherently risky mission."

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center said this is the first avalanche fatality of the 2023-2024 season.

The Waterfall Creek area reopened around noon. Harrelson's next of kin have been notified.

No other details were immediately available.

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