Body of California skier missing since Christmas found after two weeks of search
The body of Rory Angelotta, the skier who disappeared on Christmas Day, was found weeks later. Search video provided by Placer County Sheriff’s Office
Placer County Sheriff’s Office/Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue via Storyful
Friends and colleagues are mourning the loss of an experienced, free-spirited skier whose body was found over the weekend a few miles from a California ski resort where he disappeared in a blizzard two weeks ago.
Rory Angelotta, 43, had been skiing in whiteout conditions at Northstar Ski Resort on Christmas Day. The main search effort was canceled on December 30. But on Saturday, crews widened the search area and brought in a rescue dog, the Placer County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
The body was found about half a mile from a residential area. Authorities theorize that Angelotta got lost in near-zero visibility conditions.
“Angelotta had traveled a considerable distance from the ski resort boundaries to the rear of the resort,” the sheriff’s office said. “It’s possible Angelotta was trying to find the neighborhood near Truckee when he succumbed to the elements.”
Authorities said they hoped the discovery of Angelotta’s body would put an end to the family, who issued a statement of gratitude for the search effort.
“The Angelotta family is deeply touched by the overwhelming outpouring of prayers and support during this extremely difficult time,” the family statement read. “And would like to personally thank everyone who has accompanied them in the search and helped them over the past two weeks.”
Angelotta moved to California from Colorado last year and ran a local Surefoot ski shop. His sister, Kelsey, posted on Instagram shortly before the body was discovered that she had spent 11 days “running through this whole complex” looking for her brother.
“All I can hope is that he had the best powder run of his life before he left us. He rarely left me without saying ‘go fast, take risks’,” he said. -she writes. “And sadly, I always knew that was how he could go. Doing the one thing we both love. And that’s how I’ll always remember him. Skiing with me side side by side, souls of a kind, with the biggest smile on his face.”
Surefoot wrote in an Instagram post that his team was “devastated that our time with him was cut short. His passion for skiing was contagious.”
Alison Griggs, a friend from Angelotta, Colorado, remembered her kind and loving spirit.
“Heart=broken, so glad my last Facebook post with him was full of love,” Griggs wrote in a Facebook post. “My heart is with the Angelottas, I love you Rory. Thank you for being my friend and showing the world what it means to be a kind and humble human being.”
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Angelotta’s ski pass was scanned at 11.30am on December 25. Friends alerted authorities later that day when he failed to show up for Christmas dinner.
Over the next six days, more than 13,000 personnel hours were devoted to his rescue, authorities said.
The University of California, Berkeley, Central Sierra Snow Lab, a few miles from Truckee, reported a 24-hour snowfall total of 38.9 inches per day after Christmas. California’s mountains saw record snowfall throughout December – the lab’s site easily beat its old December record of 179 inches set in 1970.
Members from 17 agencies braved avalanche conditions and “extreme mountain winter conditions (which) included high winds, whiteout conditions, teenage nighttime temperatures and more than seven feet of fresh snow since the start of the search,” the sheriff’s office said.
Rescue personnel used skis, snowmobiles, a truck-sized snowcat, several helicopters and advanced airborne radar technology. At one point, early in the search, authorities followed a trail of new tracks – only to find that the tracks belonged to a bear.
Ultimately, authorities said that “due to the considerable distance Angelotta traveled” from the compound, the area where the body was found was not included in initial emergency search efforts.
“There were no indications of suspicious or unusual activity,” the sheriff’s office said.