Chesterton Tribune



Search and rescue for Dr. James McGrogan halted after storm

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Authorities in Eagle County, Colo., have ended their search-and-rescue operation for a Chesterton native who disappeared while hiking with friends on a hut trip north of Vail.

Dr. James C. McGrogan, 39, was reported missing at 5:30 p.m. Friday, after friends from whom he’d been separated earlier in the day found no trace of him at the Eiseman hut, the cabin facility where they’d expected to meet him.

Eagle County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Jessie Mosher told the Chesterton Tribune today that a brutal winter storm on Tuesday, coupled with the intensity of the search over the weekend, prompted the decision to halt search-and-rescue efforts.

At some point a recovery operation will be launched but Mosher said that none has yet been scheduled.

Around 8:30 a.m. Friday McGrogan and three friends began the approximately seven-mile hike to the Eiseman hut, Mosher said. At 10 a.m. McGrogan’s friends elected to take a break but McGrogan pressed ahead. At 5 p.m. the three arrived at their destination, the Eiseman hut, but there was no sign of McGrogan.

Mosher estimated that a distance of five miles separates the Eiseman hut from the point along the trail where the three took their break. The trail itself is “well-marked,” “snow-packed,” and frequently traveled, but it’s also rugged. “It’s the Rocky Mountains,” she said. “The snow is deep, there are cliffs and cornices, and conditions are not what people are used to if they’re not from the area.”

The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office previously reported that McGrogan--an emergency medicine physician with the St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Mishawaka--“had a large pack with food, water, basic medical supplies, a sleeping bag, avalanche beacon, GPS, and warm clothing.”

Mosher said today that no communication was ever received from McGrogan’s avalanche beacon. “We do not know if it was ever activated.”

Mosher reported a light snow in the area over the weekend on Saturday. Tuesday’s storm, however, brought a couple of feet of new snow, dropped temperatures to very low levels, and left visibility poor, she said.

As many as 110 people and two helicopters participated in the search for McGrogan but no sign of him has been uncovered, Mosher noted. She added that “nothing suspicious” has been found either and that there is no reason to think “anything criminal” has occurred.

In her 10 years with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, Moser said, no one has gone missing from this particular trail, although several hikers every year do go missing in Eagle County.

McGrogan is a 1993 graduate of Chesterton High School.



Posted 3/19/2014