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Search for Missing Snowboarders Goes Hi-Tech

Search for Missing Snowboarders Goes Hi-Tech

Posted - Jan. 11, 2004 at 5:14 p.m.



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John Hollenhorst reportingSearchers near Sundance Ski Resort took advantage of improved safety conditions this weekend.

They made one last massive effort-- this time with high-tech equipment-- to find two young snowboarders buried in an avalanche.

There's still no good news to report. Searchers are pinning their hopes on radar...and computers. But two bodies remain buried in deep snow after this weekend's huge effort.

Both days this weekend, about 75 people have been involved in the search.

They're hoping to find Rod Newberry and Adam Merz who were swept away by a series of avalanches the day after Christmas.

The body of a third snowboarder, Mike Hebert, was found Dec. 28.

Search crews have repeatedly probed a huge pile of snow and debris a quarter mile long, 30 feet deep. They're using standard methods: Searching for odors with dog teams. Probing with poles. Digging with shovels.

But this weekend they also brought in 3 teams with ground-penetrating radar. It can spot objects buried in the snow...and pinpoint places to dig.

So far that's led to frustration. The radar has found only buried rocks and trees.

But one radar team plans a computer analysis tomorrow, which should provide 3-dimensional views of objects under the snow.

Randy Sorenson/Radar Expert : "With the software that we have, hopefully we'll be able to define how big the mass is. Pinpoint where, how large of an object it is. That way we can filter out a lot of the tree limbs and smaller rocks."

John Valentine/Coordinator: "The snow itself is very hard in some places. We've broken 22 probe poles and 12 shovels to this point trying to find our individuals."

No decision yet on how long the search will continue. Authorities want to see what the computers show before they pin down their plans.

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