Remains found on Vail Mountain may be missing skier

Photos: Eagle County Sheriff's Office
By  | 

VAIL, Colo. (KKTV) - Skeletal remains were recovered from Vail Mountain during a search for a missing skier over the weekend.

While the remains have not been definitively identified, the Eagle County Sheriff's Office says they have strong reason to believe the remains are indeed those of Yunlong Chen, a Chinese national reported missing nearly six months ago. His last sighting was on a surveillance camera on Feb. 28, though his ski pass was scanned several times after he was caught on tape. He was supposed to return home by March 7.

Vail reportedly received nearly 5 feet of snow that week.

The sheriff's office launched what it described as a "massive" search for Chen Saturday and Sunday. Previous search efforts were attempted but hindered by snow that lasted longer than usual in the region, inclement weather, and a scheduled wildlife closure on the mountain.

The remains were found on Vail Mountain's back bowls on the first day of the search. The sheriff's office said items found at the scene were consistent with those described by Chen's family as having been with him when he was last seen.

The mission took months to coordinate, and involved 60 professional searchers from across Colorado, drones, dogs and hikers, the sheriff's office said. In a statement Saturday, the office thanked the numerous people who came together to find Chen.

"Several teams worked diligently on today’s search. It was a collaborative effort between Vail Mountain Rescue Group, Vail Ski Patrol, Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, Eagle County Government, Vail Resorts, El Paso County Search and Rescue Group, Mesa County Search and Rescue Group, Chaffiee County Search and Rescue Group, Summit County Search and Rescue Group, Boulder Rescue Squad, Eagle County Coroner’s Office, Colorado Search and Rescue Association, Front Rand Rescue Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs of Colorado, Eagle County Paramedic Services and The Vail Public Safety Communications Center."