Body recovered near Vail was Grand Marais snowboarder missing for weekThe worst fears have come true for family and friends of missing snowboarder Jasper “Jazz”‘ McGrath, as Eagle County, Colo., authorities confirmed Thursday afternoon they were recovering a body off the mountain at Blue Sky Basin ski area near Vail.
By: John Myers, Duluth News Tribune
The worst fears have come true for family and friends of missing snowboarder Jasper “Jazz”‘ McGrath, as Eagle County, Colo., authorities confirmed Thursday afternoon they were recovering a body off the mountain at Blue Sky Basin ski area near Vail.
McGrath, 19, of Grand Marais, Minn., has been missing since Jan. 6 when he left his brother’s home with his snowboard about 10 a.m.
Searches by air, ski patrol search and rescue team and police turned up nothing earlier in the week. But on Thursday afternoon a body was found on the mountain.
“They are in a recovery operation now in an area outside the normal ski area,” said Suzanne Silverthorn, spokeswoman for the city of Vail. “It’s an area where the locals liked to ski and snowboard.”
Tim McGrath, Jasper’s father who was in Vail, told the Star Tribune newspaper in Minneapolis this evening that the person found was his son.
Family and friends of Jasper “Jaz” McGrath had joined the search Thursday hoping they might find him alive or simply “couch surfing” at a friend’s house no knowing he was missed.
Jasper McGrath left Grand Marais on Thanksgiving Day to stay with his brother, Joe, 21, and snowboard around Vail.
Joe McGrath, 21, said he didn’t report his brother missing until Sunday, four days later, because he had been working and hadn’t realized how long it had been since he’d seen Jasper. It isn’t unusual for Jasper to hang out with friends for several days.
“I thought, ‘Whoa, I haven’t seen him in a couple of days. Where is he?’ ” Joe McGrath told the Vail Daily newspaper.
Vail Police Sgt. Chris Botkins said earlier Thursday that the case was puzzling. There were few starting points for an investigation, noting that Jasper McGrath wasn’t going to school and didn’t have a job, a car or even a cell phone.
“He’s literally just out here [in Vail] couch-surfing,” Botkins said, referring to the practice of sleeping at a friend’s or family member’s house with no address of your own.
Authorities in Vail contacted the Cook County Sheriff’s Office in Grand Marais to see if they had any clues to McGrath’s whereabouts. They didn’t.
Family members from Grand Marais traveled to Colorado to help in the search earlier this week.
Joe and Jasper McGrath graduated from Cook County High School. The family, which had lived near Devils Track Lake after moving to the area several years ago, recently built a home east of Grand Marais, a former neighbor said.
“They were good neighbors. Jaz is a great kid. He used to cut grass and stack wood for me,” said Delores Saethre.
Vail Mountain Rescue had searched earlier in the week outside the usual ski boundaries in areas McGrath was known to snowboard. Vail Ski Patrol also helped search within Vail ski boundaries, said Eagle County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Shannon Cordingly.
“We found two areas where a natural avalanche had occurred, so we checked with probes,” Cordingly said, adding that the lack of snow in forested areas made it difficult to conduct a search.
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