Missing snowboarders rescued at Sugarloaf

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CARRABASSETT VALLEY — Officials say that four teenage snowboarders have been found at the Sugarloaf Ski area after an 18-hour search.

According to a report from the Associated Press, 18-year old Lewiston resident Luke Poisson was found at 9:30 a.m. this morning.  His three companions — 18-year old Cory Koop of North Pole, Alaska; 19-year old Machali Belluscio of Keene, N.H. and 15-year-old Aaron Nadeau of New Portland — were located a short time later.

They were reported missing about 5 p.m. Sunday, said Ethan Austin, communications manager at Sugarloaf. 

Three of the four were travelling together and the fourth was riding alone, Austin said.

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Those lost could shout to each other but couldn’t get together so one person stayed alone in the wilderness last night, Austin said.

Rescuers were the most most worried about the one person who had soloed in the chilly night. The person, who was not being named yet, was found in relatively good condition, Austin said.

The Sugarloaf Ski Patrol was continuing toward the other three people.

The weather overnight included light snow flurries and heavy winds but not as bad as rescuers thought they would see, Austin said.

Temperatures were in the 20s and about 5 inches of snow accumulated overnight, Austin said.

It is believed those lost went beyond the designated ski area boundaries on to what’s known locally as,  ” the Backside” of the mountain where there are neither trails nor roads, Austin said.

The terrain is thickly wooded and very steep leading down to a bowl-like area above the Rapid Stream valley. Rescuers were planning to either bring the young men out via snowmobile to West Kingfield road, between 8 to 10 miles from the mountain’s summit or hike back to the ridge and ski out. 

About five feet of new snow over the last several days was complicating the rescue, Austin told reporters.

Using cell phones, those lost called family and friends who alerted the ski patrol, which started a search at that time, he said.

Maintaining contact, searchers came within yelling distance Sunday night but high winds and snow visibility caused the search to cease about 6:30 p.m., he said.

The four were told to “hunker down, dig down into the snow and stay warm.”

The search began again at 5 a.m. Monday.

Snowmobiles are expected to bring the all four off the mountain as soon as they are found, he said.

abryant@sunjournal.com

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