Conifer man survives snowmobile crash
VAIL PASS – Bob Fredrickson is a lucky man – relatively. Blinded by snow, the 52-year-old Conifer man drove his snowmobile off a cornice in the Vail Pass area Friday, breaking a bone in his leg but otherwise emerging in good shape from the trauma.
Last year, an eerily similar accident in the same spot left a Florida man dead.
“We’ve been here three years in a row in the same exact spot,” said Summit Search and Rescue mission coordinator John Agnew. “It’s always been in a whiteout. There’s a pretty good trail right up to the edge of the cornice. They just ride right over the edge.”
Rescuers spent more than six hours in the snowy backcountry Thursday, carefully working to extricate Fredrickson from an area highly susceptible to avalanches. Around 6 p.m., they had successfully evacuated him, and an ambulance transported him to Vail Valley Medical Center.
The looming avalanche danger made the rescue a slow, methodical process. But Fredrickson, who spoke on his cell phone to his wife and Agnew during the rescue, reported he was doing well.
“He’s OK,” said his wife, Kara. “He is in a little bit of pain. He thinks he may have broken a hip or leg.”
Kara Fredrickson was skiing at Keystone when her cell phone rang with the news that her husband had had a serious accident.
“Oh my god,” said Kara, who was waiting in the Vail Pass rest area parking lot late Friday afternoon for rescuers to bring her husband out of the backcountry. “I’m just glad he was alive.”
Last March, three brothers all rode their snowmobiles over the same cornice. James Turak, who was visiting from Florida, died as a result of the fall. His brothers survived.
Fredrickson wasn’t a stranger to the Vail Pass area, however.
“He’s been riding quite a few years, so I was surprised that he would have an accident,” Kara Fredrickson said. “He knows this area well, so he just must not have been able to see.”
Agnew was among the first to speak to Fredrickson after the accident. The injured man reportedly called for help from his cell phone.
“He sounded real good, very calm,” Agnew said. “Apparently, he’s a fireman on the Front Range somewhere. He didn’t sound like someone who was injured, but I think his firefighter experience must have kept him calm.
“He’s been up there for five hours,” Agnew said at about 4 p.m. Friday. “He’s pretty stable.
“He’s right underneath the cornice, where there’s a high avalanche risk, so we’ve limited the number of people we’ve sent over the edge.”
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