Friends and co-workers are mourning the loss of an experienced, free-spirited skier whose body was found this weekend a few miles from a California ski resort where he disappeared in a blizzard two weeks ago.
Rory Angelotta, 43, had been skiing in whiteout conditions at Northstar Ski Resort on Christmas Day. The primary search effort was called off Dec. 30. But on Saturday, teams expanded the search area and brought in a rescue canine, the Placer County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
The body was found about a half mile from a residential neighborhood. Authorities theorize Angelotta got lost in the near-zero visibility conditions.
“Angelotta had traveled a considerable distance from the ski resort boundaries and the backside of the resort,” the sheriff’s office said. “It is possible Angelotta was attempting to find the neighborhood near Truckee when he succumbed to the elements.”
Authorities said they hoped the discovery of Angelotta’s body would provide closure to the family, which released a statement of gratitude for the search effort.
“The Angelotta family is deeply touched by the overwhelming outpouring of prayers and support during this extremely difficult time,” the family statement said. “And personally wants to thank everyone that accompanied in the search and assisted them during these last two weeks.”
Angelotta moved to California from Colorado last year and was managing a local Surefoot ski shop. His sister, Kelsey, posted on Instagram shortly before the body was found that she spent 11 days “lapping this entire resort” looking for her brother.
“All I can hope for is he had the best powder run of his life before he left us. He rarely left me without saying ‘go fast, take chances!'” she wrote. “And sadly, I always knew this is how he might go. Doing the one thing we both love. And that’s how I’ll always remember him. Skiing with me side-by-side, souls of a kind, with the biggest smile on his face.”
Surefoot wrote in an Instagram post that its team was “devastated that our time with him was cut short. His passion for skiing was contagious.”
Alison Griggs, a friend of Angelotta in Colorado, remembered his kind, loving spirit.
“Heart = broken I’m so glad my last Facebook message with him was full of love,” Griggs wrote in a Facebook post. “My heart is with the Angelotta’s I love you Rory. Thank you for being my friend and showing the world what it means to be a kind, humble human being.”
Angelotta’s lift pass was scanned at 11:30 a.m. on the Dec. 25. Friends alerted authorities later that day when he failed to show up for Christmas dinner.
Over the next six days, more than 13,000 personnel hours were committed to his rescue, authorities said.
The University of California, Berkeley, Central Sierra Snow Lab, just a few miles from Truckee, reported a 24-hour snow total of 38.9 inches a day after Christmas. California’s mountains saw record-setting snow throughout December – the lab site easily smashed its old December record of 179 inches set in 1970.
Members of 17 agencies braved avalanche conditions and “extreme winter mountain conditions (that) included high winds, whiteout conditions, overnight temperatures in the teens, and over seven feet of new snow since the beginning of the search,” the sheriff’s office said.
Rescue personnel used skis, snowmobiles, a truck-size snowcat, multiple helicopters and advance airborne radar technology. At one point early in the search authorities were following up on a tip of fresh tracks – only to discover the tracks belonged to a bear.
Ultimately, authorities said that “due to the considerable distance Angelotta had traveled” from the resort, the area where the body was found was not included in the original emergency search efforts.
“There was no indication of any suspicious or unusual activity,” he sheriff’s office said.
Source: GANNETT Syndication Service