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