Michael Madden 2011-03-11

Search for missing snowboarder suspended

March 21, 2011

(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska - Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad (KVRS) officials suspended the search as of 3:30 pm Sunday for a 35 year old snowboarder Michael Madden missing on Deer Mountain after investing days in the search.

The search, started Saturday March 12th, involved 28 KVRS members including two KVRS dog teams , the Alaska State Troopers, and three members of SEADOGS of Juneau, and many members of the community who supported efforts by supplying food and other support.

During the final briefing Jerry Kiffer of Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad (KVRS) advised that while the team was not able to bring Michael Madden home the operation should be considered a success, “The area covered by search crews in some very difficult weather was amazing,” said Kiffer. The first five days of the operation included winds as high as 50 mph and over 5 feet of new snow resulted in very high avalanche danger and visibility at times down to 20 feet. The weather moderated on day 7 of the search allowing two certified avalanche dogs from SEADOGS out of Juneau were able to reach the avalanche slides on the north face of the mountain. Deep snow, in excess of 20 feet hampered search efforts making spotting tracks or other clues impossible.

Search operations began on March 12th for a 35 year old Michael Madden overdue from a day hike up to Deer Mountain. Madden was reported as overdue to the Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad (KVRS) when he failed to return at 6:30 pm.

Madden's parents reported he was an experienced outdoors person who snowboarded every weekend in the Mount Hood area and grew up here in Ketchikan, making many trips up Deer Mountain in the winter. Madden was sighted around 12:00 pm on Saturday, March 12th, headed up Deer mountain just below the second overlook. Madden had reported the snow was deeper that when he was up the mountain the week before and wished he had snowshoes but was moving slowly up the trail. Search teams were able on the first search day to reach the north face of the mountain late that night (March 12th) before being turned around due to high winds and avalanche dangers.

KVRS officials feel when the snow begins to recede it is likely Madden will be located.

KVRS advised that anybody traveling on Deer Mountain should have snowshoes, avalanche beacons, and be trained in avalanche awareness and back country travel.

Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad (KVRS) supplies SPOT satellite beacons free of charge for back country travel, just contact their office at 225-9010.

On the Web:

Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad (KVRS) search and rescue reports http://ketchikanrescue.org/news.htm

Source of News:

Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad (KVRS)