Originally published March 14, 2017 at 02:58p.m., updated March 14, 2017 at 02:58p.m.
The search for a missing skier, Steve Leavitt from The Dalles, has been dialed back and termed a recovery effort.
Leavitt, 57, has been missing at Mt. Hood Meadows since last Tuesday.
Sgt. Pete Hughes with the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office said authorities consulted with an expert physician and determined Leavitt could not have survived, given the gear he had when he disappeared.
“Our hearts go out to his family. The search to find Mr. Leavitt will continue in limited capacity and as danger levels allow,” Hughes said.
Leavitt, a sales manager at Tonkin Subaru dealership in The Dalles, last scanned his ski pass on Heather Chair Lift at 11:20 a.m. Tuesday. After his family reported him missing that night, a multi-agency search began despite harrowing weather. Meadows picked up five and a half feet of powder snow in the five days leading up to the search for Leavitt. The deep snow can create hazardous conditions such as tree wells and hidden creek holes, Hughes explained.
Heather Canyon, the area where Leavitt went missing, is classified double black diamond and recommended for expert skiers only. Leavitt was familiar with the terrain, according to Hughes, and Leavitt had skied on the mountain many times.
Persistent rain and snow restricted search efforts. Weather cleared up Friday, affording teams better conditions; however, the endeavors were unsuccessful. An aerial search for Leavitt involved a sheriff’s office airplane, a National Guard helicopter, and drones. A group of four Insitu pilots flew two thermal camera-equipped drones to provide searchers with aerial imagery of the Heather Canyon area. Ground vehicles included a Snow Cat and a team of snowmobiles.
Hood River Crag Rats lent their skiing abilities to the search.
“The avalanche danger was significant through the search, (and) as well, the skiing was very difficult,” said Chris Van Tilburg, MD, with the Crag Rats, due to wet and “wildly variable” conditions.
Authorities scaled back the search Saturday, after consulting partner agencies.
“All of our resources are returning from Hood River. Sadly, the missing skier has not been located. The search has been suspended for now,” tweeted Mountain Wave SAR.
In the following days, Meadows patrol skiers have continued to run laps of the area.
The community has come together to provide donations for volunteers involved in the search and rescue for Leavitt. The account is posted at www.gofundme. com/steve-leavitt-search.
“To all the passionate riders frequenting our beautiful mountain home: We are family. Thank you for coming together during this tragedy,” said Riane Young, the fund’s creator.
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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"
Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge