Rescue crews suspend search for missing Sugar Bowl ski instructor
January 26, 2016
NORDEN, Calif. — The Placer County Sheriff's Office will call off the search for 23-year-old Carson May at the end of Tuesday, Jan. 19, officials have announced.
According to a PCSO statement released at 4 p.m. to media, "should new information become available and environmental conditions allow, additional follow-up searches may occur."
"Conditions during the five days of searching have been treacherous due to frequent heavy snow and the associated risks that high avalanche danger poses to the many search and rescue volunteers," according to the statement. "Placer County Sheriff's personnel, Sugar Bowl representatives and chaplains met with the May family today and it is with regret that we must suspend the efforts to locate Carson."
May was reported missing at Sugar Bowl Resort on Jan. 15, amid whiteout conditions, "and despite days of intensive searching, has not been located," according to the statement.
In a Tuesday interview, PCSO Sgt. Dave Hunt said harsh weather conditions consisting of sleet, rain and snow, among other factors, were a major challenge for the search crew.
"As survivability after this many days is greatly decreased, we've called off the search due to high avalanche conditions and consistent rains," he said. "However, we have not given up on the search and continue to have the case open as a missing person investigation."
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May, originally of Davis, Calif., works at Sugar Bowl's Mountain Sports Learning Center as a ski school instructor and is considered a "highly regarded friend and colleague of many," resort officials said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.
"Staff members and the Sugar Bowl community will be dealing with the impacts of this situation for some time," according to the statement. "… Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go to the May family, who have been dealing with the unthinkable these past five days. The May family and Sugar Bowl will work together moving forward to try to find some sense of closure."
In all, more than 400 people from the PCSO search and rescue teams, as well as those from Nevada, Douglas, and El Dorado counties; Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue; Bay Area Mountain Rescue; Marin Mountain Rescue; U.S. Forest Service; Sugar Bowl Ski Patrol; and National Ski Patrol, among others, assisted in the search since Friday morning.
"The Placer County Sheriff's Office would like to express our appreciation to the many volunteer searchers from the Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue, volunteer searchers from the multiple allied agencies, and the assistance of the Sugar Bowl staff who all worked tirelessly to locate Carson despite the extremely hazardous conditions," according to Tuesday's PCSO statement.
PCSO officials said May got lost while skiing Jan. 14 at the Donner Summit resort; he was reportedly not working at the time of his disappearance.
Amelia Richmond, a North Tahoe-based freelance writer, contributed to this report.