Colorado Search for Minn. Father and Son Complicated by Uncertainty, Weather

Updated: 04/07/2014 9:44 PM
Created: 04/07/2014 9:40 PM
By: Kate Renner

Alpine rescue teams in Denver, Colorado are using snowmobiles, skiers and snowshoers in an effort to find a missing father and son from St. Louis Park, Minnesota. But local officials say complications are a cause for concern.

Alpine Rescue Team spokesman Bill Barwick says searchers are not sure the father and son are equipped for wintry conditions in the Rocky Mountains. The temperature is around 19 degrees and very windy with ground blizzard type conditions.

"They've been out since Wednesday, we have no idea where they might have gone to, we have no idea of direction of travel. We have no idea of what kind of what kind of gear they might have with them for an overnight stay in the mountains," said Berwick.

Officials say 51-year-old Damian McManus and 18-year-old Evan McManus were last heard from Wednesday after hiking in Clear Creek County near Echo Lake. There have been four snowstorms in the area since then, meaning any tracks from the men are now covered up.

The National Guard helicopter was called off Monday afternoon due to the treacherous weather conditions. The National Guard is hoping to resume assistance on Tuesday.

Officials say is it possible they are buried under the snow and there is concern for avalanches in that area.

Authorities say another complication is the vagueness about where the pair was hiking. A message on Wednesday from Evan to his girlfriend says they were going to scale a peak. That was the last time anyone heard from them.

The father and son's car was found at the Echo Lake campground where they had gone hiking. There are five different trails covered in snow the pair could have taken, resulting in hundreds of acres for rescuers to cover, officials say.

The pair had driven to Colorado for a spring break "boys trip," according to family spokesperson Andrea Bouzrara.

On Tuesday night, Damian McManus checked in with his wife, Katherine and Evan's twin sister, Lauren, who were on vacation on a "girls trip" in Mexico, according to Bouzrara.

A receipt found in the car indicated the father and son ate at Denny's in Lakewood earlier that day, officials say.

Bouzrara and her daughter were in Mexico last week with the McManus girls. She says she knows that Wednesday through Sunday, were some crucial days in finding out the location of the two men. "It's hard, it's hard, you feel guilty that you didn't think more of it, but you know when you're international and you can't get ahold of someone that's in the mountains, your mind doesn't go to, we should be worried, we should call the police. Your mind goes to you have spotty cell coverage. So the concern didn't really come up seriously until the girlfriend said she really couldn't get ahold of them," said Bouzrara.

Katherine and Evan's twin sister Lauren flew out to Denver Monday morning, but for all their friends and family waiting back in Minnesota - there's only one thing they can do.

"Praying and hoping, staying positive and really believing they're going to be found safely. And pray that they will be found quickly. We want the family to know we have thousands of people that love and who are supporting them and are here for them," said Bouzrara.

Evan is a senior at St. Louis Park High School, and is getting ready to pick a college.

"His main sport for sure was soccer - soccer, soccer, soccer, and his dad was an advocate of that too, being from England," said Bouzrara.

Damian even called local games for the team. Friends say Damian McManus was in the military in Britain, and he's an experienced outdoorsman. Katherine McManus believes he would never have gone on a hike unprepared.

Barwick hopes the two men hunkered down somewhere and will wait there until his crew can find them.

A fund for the family has been set-up at the Citizens Independent Bank in St. Louis Park.

Minneapolis/St. Paul

74° | 50°
  • Feels like: 59° F
  • Wind: WSW 9mph
  • Humidity: 83%
  • Thu Partly cloudy and windy
    60° | 34°
  • Fri More sun than clouds
    48° | 30°
  • Sat Times of sun and clouds
    54° | 38°
  • Sun Mix of sun and clouds
    52° | 44°