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Two men perish in Sno-cat accident

One had a Crested Butte connection

by Mark Reaman

The bodies of two men, one with a tie to Crested Butte, were recovered from Island Lake on Grand Mesa last week after a tragic accident on February 3. The Grand Junction Sentinel reported the men, Ryan Wells and Richard Colton, both 30 and residents of Delta County, apparently drove a large Sno-Cat on the lake ice and it fell through early in the morning of February 3.

Wells was the owner of Ol’ Red’s Towing Company of Crested Butte and had an apartment in the valley. He started the towing company in 2014 and split his time between Crested Butte and Delta.

According to the Sentinel, the men were reported missing after they missed their checkout time from the Grand Mesa Lodge. It appears they drowned after apparently driving the 15,000-pound Sno-Cat on the ice surface of the lake and the ice collapsed into 65 feet of water. They were apparently warned to not do that by the lodge owner, given the weight of the vehicle. It is suspected that the men consumed alcohol prior to the accident that occurred very early Sunday morning.

Delta County sheriff Mark Taylor said a remote-operated vehicle from Summit County located the bodies of the men Monday evening, as well as the Sno-Cat. The Sno-Cat is still at the bottom of Island Lake and Taylor said he did not know how long it would stay down there. He said it is likely that another organization will take charge of the vehicle’s recovery.

A funeral for Wells was held in Delta last Saturday, February 9.

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