Spring thaw could help in search for missing hikers

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Mount Evans visitors who find any clues asked to call sheriff

By Beth Potter

As the days get warmer, search-and-rescue teams are hoping enough snow will melt on Mount Evans to find out what happened to two missing hikers from Minnesota.

Searchers have now spent an estimated 5,000 hours looking for father and son Damian McManus 52, and Evan McManus, 19, of St. Louis Park, Minn., said Bill Barwick, an Alpine Rescue Team spokesman. The two were reported missing April 6 after they did not return from a spring-break trip to Colorado. Their SUV was found parked at Echo Lake Campground.

The paved Mount Evans road officially opens on Memorial Day, which is expected to bring many new visitors to the region. Anyone who sees any clue of the missing men should treat the surrounding area as a crime scene, Barwick said.

“If you think you’ve found a clue, notify the sheriff. If you think you’ve seen something, notify the sheriff,” Barwick said. “Don’t indiscriminately take it on yourself or let the family dog go find it.”

Because cell-phone coverage in the region is spotty at best, anyone finding a clue should call the Sheriff’s Office from Echo Lake Lodge, the closest land-line telephone, Barwick said. The lodge is currently open.

“We remain very hopeful that we can bring this to a conclusion. Unfortunately, the weather and the byproduct of the weather, the amount of snow in the area has confounded us,” Barwick said. “Every time we try to get up there, there has been more snow.”

Three to 7 feet of snow blanketed the region where searchers looked on the weekend of May 10, Barwick said. Teams of sniffer dogs fanned out across the region that weekend, but no clues were found, Barwick said.

The missing father and son had a “three-day head start” on searchers between April 2, when they were last heard from, and April 6, when they were reported missing. In that time period, 17 inches of snow fell, Barwick said.

The two men told others they were planning to "scale a peak" in Colorado before they went missing. The men’s cell phones were “active” until 7:20 p.m. Wednesday, April 2, according to information from the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center's electronics investigation team. Cell-phone information indicated the pair were directly south of the Echo Lake Campground on April 2.

A receipt found in the car indicates the pair had breakfast April 2 at a Denny’s in Lakewood. A pair of hiking boots and a pair of tennis shoes also were found in the car, Barwick said.

Contact Beth Potter at beth@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1043.