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Editor’s note: After 12 hours of non-stop work, recovery workers in San Juan County reached the bodies of three Eagle residents beneath 14 feet of avalanche debris late Wednesday.
Eagle County and the town of Eagle Wednesday issued a statement confirming the identities of the three missing public officials presumed to have been killed in an avalanche while backcountry skiing in the San Juan Mountains on Monday.
The victims of Monday’s avalanche on The Nose between Silverton and Ophir in San Juan County are Adam Palmer, Eagle County sustainable communities director and an Eagle Town Board member; Seth Bossung, Eagle County energy efficiency project manager; and Andy Jessen, a co-owner of Bonfire Brewing in Eagle and also an Eagle Town Board member and Eagle Mayor Pro Tem.
Eagle County issued a separate statement cancelling planning commission meetings scheduled for today and Thursday.
Here’s the joint, county-town statement:
Eagle County Government and the Town of Eagle are joining the community in mourning the loss of three friends and leaders. While an official announcement has not yet been made by our partners in San Juan County, the families of Seth Bossung, Andy Jessen and Adam Palmer are allowing us to share their names so we can all openly acknowledge their deaths and grieve together. The families are surrounded by loved ones, and we are asking everyone to respect their wishes as to when and how they wish to communicate with others.
Our hearts are heavy with the loss of these three men. Their contributions through their work in local government and local businesses, as well as their personal passions and their impact on the friends and family members they leave behind, have helped shape the community in ways that will be forever lasting. Every single one of us in both of our organizations has learned by their examples, and we are grateful to be able to call them colleagues.
It is important to recognize how this type of loss can affect people differently. There are so many resources to help with the trauma and mental health challenges that may come with grieving. A list of local organizations and providers can be found at https://www.eaglevalleybh.org/get-help-now. Financial assistance is available through Olivia’s Fund, so please do not hesitate to access these resources.
The strength of our community is rooted in our shared love for this place and the people who live here. Andy, Adam and Seth exemplified this every day. Please find ways to come together safely and share your stories of them and others. We will do the same.
Eagle County Schools Superintendent Philip Qualman issued this statement:
Dear staff and families of Eagle County Schools,
The loss of three amazing and vibrant community members this week to the avalanche in Silverton has left us with heavy hearts and deep sadness. Many of our staff have personal connections with the families involved. We loved and appreciated the men who were lost, teach and cherish their children, and grieve with their significant others and families. Because they were so involved in our community, this tragedy is widely felt. But, we also have the community to support one another as we process and heal.
The school district will have extra grief counselors on hand at the schools most closely connected to the families, Eagle Valley Middle and Eagle Valley High schools, to support staff and students. Our partnership with The Hope Center is greatly appreciated and we encourage all who are struggling to seek support.
As students return to school on Thursday following today’s planning day, please be extra kind and considerate to one another. Our nerves are raw at the moment and feeling emotional is to be expected. Be kind to yourself, too.
Look for ways to support the families in their time of greatest need. Recognize that they may need space and privacy to mourn. We have already seen an outpouring of love and support on social media.
School district administrators and counselors will be working with the families and will pass along further information regarding services and celebrations at their direction.
Please surround these families with love and wishes for comfort and peace. Let the outpouring of love from so many among us also envelope the entire community to help with our collective sadness.
Gov. Jared Polis late Wednesday offered this statement:
DENVER – This week, an avalanche between the towns of Silverton and Ophir on February 1, 2021, claimed the lives of three Coloradans. Governor Polis offered his condolences to the families and friends of the avalanche victims.
“Those tragically lost in this avalanche were pillars of their community, public servants and friends to many. My thoughts are with their families, friends, and the Eagle County community during what must be a heart-wrenching and unimaginable moment,” said Governor Polis.
Colorado is experiencing a particularly dangerous avalanche season. The State urges individuals to know the forecast before you go, by checking Colorado Avalanche Information Center’s website, social media, or downloading their mobile app.
Other recommended safety measures include:
For general information on recreating safely in Colorado’s backcountry visit: https://avalanche.state.co.us/