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LEADVILLE, Colorado – Heavy snow storms out West has meant
it has been an unusually deadly avalanche season. More than a dozen people have
already died, including two Portage, Wisconsin natives.
The deputy director at Colorado’s Avalanche Information
Center says the avalanche that killed Justin Lentz and Jarrard Law was about
“It’s about as big an avalanche as we can get here in
Colorado,” said CAIO Deputy Director Brian Lazar.
Investigators describe the avalanche as a size four out of
five that barreled down Star Mountain Saturday, 130-miles west of Denver.
“Surviving an avalanche of this size is very unlikely,” said
Lazar. The pair died and three others were injured. Two more weren’t hurt. It’s
likely the group of skiers and snowboarders triggered the back country
avalanche by dislodging the fragile snow that was ready to give way.
“They were a great skier, a great snowboarder and they were
good for the sport,” said longtime friend David VonBehren.
He was a former ski resort manager, in part at Cascade
Mountain and got to know Lentz and Law who visited there often.
“At least they died doing what they enjoyed doing in life
because they would ski and board every single day,” said VonBehren.
The CAIO said conditions are dangerous out West due to
storms that have dropped four feet or more of snow. Plus, warmer temperatures
are creating unstable hillsides.
Fifteen people have died in avalanches nationwide this
season, and at that rate, fatalities could exceed the season average of 29.
VonBehren said Lentz and Law were in the wrong place at the
wrong time. They were wearing transmitters, which helped search and rescue
crews find their bodies Sunday.
“It wasn’t like they were novice going into the back bowl
somewhere,” said VonBehren. “They were very good skiers and snowboarders, it’s
just their time was up.”
Funeral arrangements for Lentz are pending with Pflanz
Mantey Mendrala Funeral Home in Portage.
Funeral services for Law will be at 6 p.m. Thursday at
Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Portage. Friends may call from 3 to 6 p.m.
Thursday at the church. Burial will be at 11 a.m. Friday at the Center Hill
Cemetery in Illinois.
Donations are being collected at http://www.youcaring.com/ to help pay for
services – just search the victim’s names for more information.
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