Avalanche and skydiving
The Crested Butte community was hit twice by tragedy last weekend as two of its members were killed in separate accidents.
Thirty-four-year-old Knox Frank was killed in a massive avalanche near Ophir Pass on Friday afternoon, March 30. Knox, a renowned Crested Butte backcountry skier, was skiing with three friends when the slide occurred at about 3:30 in the afternoon. According to San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters, Frank was about 50 yards down the slope when the avalanche broke above him. He was immediately caught in the wet slide.
The avalanche ran about 5,000 feet long and was about 200 yards wide. Frank was carried about 1,000 feet down the hill. According to a report in the Durango Herald, Frank was wearing a beacon and was discovered about 30 to 45 minutes after the slide. He was buried beneath seven feet of snow. When found, he was not breathing and had no pulse. The group performed CPR on Frank but with no success. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Frank and his friends were staying at the Opus backcountry hut near the top of Ophir Pass. The hut’s owner called for help when the party was overdue. A Helitrax helicopter assisted in the search and rescue operation. According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, Frank was the seventh avalanche death in the state this season.
Frank worked with the U.S. Forest Service and as a snow packer for both Irwin and Crested Butte Mountain Resort. Frank has lived in Crested Butte for more than a decade and was considered one of the town’s most avid backcountry skiers.
On Sunday, April 1, a skydiving accident took the life of another Crested Butte man. Thirty-five-year-old Jeremy Worrell died during a tandem jump with an instructor from the Fremont County Airport. That accident occurred about 9 a.m.
It appears that the main and reserve parachutes both opened but the lines tangled. The pair crashed in a field north of the airport near Highway 50.
Worrell was pronounced dead at the scene and the 28-year-old instructor, who had more than 600 solo jumps and more than 50 tandem jumps to his credit, was taken to Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs, where he was in critical condition. That accident is still under investigation.
Worrell was probably best known as a bartender at the Ginger Café, with wild and sometimes multi-colored hair. He also worked at Rocky Mountain Trees and Landscaping.