Rescuers find missing boarder alive
December 24, 2005
KEYSTONE ” Local rescuers found a lost 20-year-old snowboarder alive Saturday morning west of the Diamond Back ski trail of Keystone Resort.
Sam Mason, of Allen, Texas, was rescued from the Keystone Gulch area at 10:30 a.m. and transported to Keystone Medical Center.
Mason had been riding with two brothers on Saturday, when he ducked into out-of-bounds territory on the backside of Dercum Mountain at around 2 p.m. Mason was reported missing to Keystone Ski Patrol on Saturday at 4:45 p.m. and the search began immediately.
Summit County Sheriff John Minor says that it’s probable Mason will get charged for the expense of the rescue, but his office is investigating the possibility that all three Mason brothers disobeyed the boundary specifications.
“Every time we deploy rescuers in a field, their lives are at risk,” Minor said.
Carl Mason, Sam’s father, was grateful to have his son back and still breathing.
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“I want to make public that we’re (the Mason family) praising God for what he’s done in this. His perfect will was not thwarted,” said Carl Mason. “We had teams praying all over Texas and Colorado for Sam.”
Carl Mason expressed his gratitude for everyone involved, including Minor, Keystone Mountain Director Chuck Tolton, who provided lodging and food for the Mason family, all search and rescue teams and coordinators and Chaplain Scott Wilson.
“It was a whole community effort,” said Carl Mason. Summit County Search and Rescue Public Information Officer Joe Ben Slivka headed the search from a central command location at Keystone Resort. He and his search and rescue teams set up a search pattern amid significant wind, which caused the operation to be impaired by very low visibility during the night.
“We’re extremely thankful that Sam has been found,” said Slivka. “He had been skiing the fall line downhill and got trapped in the lower gulch. It is a closed area for a reason. It is always a risk; one that is taken quite frequently, but not without its consequences.”
The Summit County Search and Rescue Group searched through Friday night. Other groups joined the effort, including Keystone Ski Patrol, Alpine Rescue, Western State, Diamonds Peaks Backcountry Patrol, El Paso Search and Rescue and Rocky Mountain Rescue Group.
According to Slivka, Mason did a positive thing by remaining in the same place throughout the night until rescuers found him.
Andrew Harley can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13614, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.