Searchers find watch they hope belongs to missing woman |

Searchers find watch they hope belongs to missing woman

VAIL ” A search team on Tuesday found a watch hanging from a tree branch that rescuers hoped belong to a 35-year-old woman who has been missing in the Holy Cross Wilderness since this weekend.

Michelle Vanek of Lakewood was last seen Saturday when she stopped to rest while her hiking companion continued to the peak of the 14,005-feet summit. When he returned she was gone.

More than 100 searchers, four dog teams and five helicopters searched the area, said Kim Andree, spokeswoman for the Eagle County sheriff’s office.

“The watch is the hot spot right now,” said Tim Cochrane of Vail Mountain Rescue.

No foul play is suspected in her disappearance, Andree said.

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While the search for Vanek was underway, a team hiked into Snowmass Mountain to recover the body of 66-year-old Jose Lopez, who fell at least 1,200 feet down a snow chute to his death during a hiking trip, said Sgt. Randy Barnes, of the Gunnison County Sheriff’s Office.

The recovery team used ropes to carry the Glenwood Springs man down a rock outcropping to awaiting horses, which took Lopez the rest of the way.

Authorities haven’t decided whether an autopsy will be necessary, Barnes said.

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