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MEEKER I The body of James Sizemore, 19, of Meeker was recovered Monday, Feb. 21, near Sand Peak, approximately 37 miles northeast of Meeker.
Sizemore was snowmobiling with a friend Feb. 20 when he was caught in an avalanche and buried under 15 feet of snow. A 911 call was placed to the Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Office at approximately 3 p.m., after Sizemore’s friend spent an hour trying to locate him.
According to the Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Office, the victim’s snowmobile became stuck in the snow. The second rider, below and ahead of the victim, had turned around to help when the avalanche engulfed Sizemore.
Members of the RBC Sheriff’s Office, rescue crews from the Meeker Fire Department and the Rio Blanco County search and rescue team were dispatched Sunday before the victim’s father called off the search around 8 p.m. due to safety concerns, said RBC Sheriff Si Woodruff.
Search and rescue teams from Summit, Routt, Garfield, Mesa and Moffat counties were contacted to help continue the search.
Two local rescue crews of approximately 10 people each, rode into the area on snowmobiles to assess the situation early Monday morning. A Summit County team with two search and rescue dogs left the Lost Park trailhead before noon Monday.
The break point of the avalanche was estimated at four feet deep, 300 feet in length and 400 feet wide. The top part of the slide, still hanging over the search area, concerned rescuers. A specialized team with explosives was brought in to mitigate the top section of the crown so the search operation could continue safely.
More than 50 people helped in the search. One of the search dogs located Sizemore at approximately 1:50 p.m., 200 yards from the top of the avalanche, near his snowmobile. Sizemore was pronounced dead at the scene at 2 p.m.
A candlelight vigil, attended by more than an estimated 250 people, was held Monday on the Rio Blanco County courthouse lawn.