Missing Snowmobilers Reunite With Families

Foursome Stayed Put, Used Tree Branches For Cover

Alpine Search and Rescue found four snowmobilers safe and sound Monday afternoon after they failed to return home during a Sunday trip to the Jones Pass area of Clear Creek County.

The foursome, which included two men and two teenage boys, were brought out of the area shortly before noon after they were found several hours earlier.

They were identified as Bill Hill and his two stepsons, Cody, 15, and Chad Morris, 16, and Andrew Jeffrey. All four are from Idaho Springs, Colo.

They told 7NEWS that they went off trail to escape the crowds and got stuck in the deep snow again and again and then "just ran out of daylight."

"We just took a straight trail and got stuck a few too many times and so we just hunkered down," said Jeffrey.

The group snapped off tree branches to build a fire and used it for cover from the elements.

"It was chilly," Jeffrey said. "We weren't prepared, but we had a lot of food and a lot of water, and good clothing."

He said they slept under the stars and it was a beautiful night, except for the cold temperatures.

For their families, it was a sleepless night.

"I was devastated. I knew something was wrong as soon as it started to get dark because my boys and Bill are very safety conscious," said Hill's wife, Joy Morris.

Searchers started looking for the four Sunday evening and continued to look until 2 a.m., when the avalanche danger became too extreme. They resumed the search at 6 a.m. Monday.

Searchers were concerned about rescuing the group in time because the weather was deteriorating Monday morning and another storm was moving in.

Family members praised rescuers for finding the men so quickly.

"I never thought they'd be rescuing my husband. Hear, hear for their courage," said Morris.

The two men and two teens were found about a half-mile off a main trail.

"We found two snowmobile tracks go into the woods so we sent a field team on foot," said rescuer Tom Loebach.

The group was described as skillful snowmobilers who are familiar with the terrain. Rescuers said the group did the right thing by staying put and finding ways to stay warm.

"They did build a fire. They built a snow structure to keep warm," said Loebach.

The group was checked out at the trailhead but did not have any injuries.

"I'm glad to be back with my wife, although I'm not sure if she's glad to be back with me yet," Jeffrey said, jokingly.

"They came out for a boy's day yesterday and they had a boy's night," Morris said.

Jones Pass is on the Continental Divide, off Highway 40, west of Berthoud Falls and west of Empire.

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