By Ray Garcia
The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office and Whatcom County Search and Rescue teams are working together to locate two Bellingham snowboarders, Jake Amancio, 22, and Drew Lenz, 20, who went missing on Mount Baker Sunday, Nov. 12.
Search and rescue teams, along with various volunteers, searched the ski area where they located the missing men’s vehicle on Monday, Nov. 13, and Tuesday, Nov. 14, said Undersheriff Jeff Parks in a news release. The search is currently suspended due to extremely hazardous weather conditions including avalanche and visibility concerns.
Senior Madeline Salas, friend of the two who went missing, said her and her friend group are remaining hopeful about the situation.
“I think what’s important for all of us to remember is Jake and Drew are both really smart, they would know how to handle snowy conditions and how to be safe,” Salas said. “That’s kind of everything we have to hold on to.”
A roommate of the missing subjects reported the two men were overdue from a snowboarding trip in the Mt. Baker Ski Area, Parks said. The roommate said the snowboarders planned to spend the day near the upper parking lot and return home by early evening Sunday, according to the report.
“The areas thought to be most likely used by backcountry skiers were checked as safely as possible by searchers with no clues found and no sign of the missing snowboarders,” Parks said.
The search on Monday, Nov. 13, went from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. with 17 people from Whatcom County Search and Rescue, U.S. Border Patrol Search and Rescue and the Mt. Baker Ski Area assisting in the search.
It resumed Tuesday, Nov. 14, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m, when 30 searchers and volunteers were pulled back to base area due to deteriorating weather conditions, according to the report.
At 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14, a decision was made to suspend the search until the snowstorm was no longer in the area, according to the report. There was no official search team on Wednesday.
“[We] continue to maintain communication and support to the families of the missing men,” Parks said. “As the week continues and conditions are assessed we will determine what options may be best for additional searching.”
The ski area is expected to receive approximately four feet of snow between Wednesday, Nov. 13, and Friday, Nov. 17, according to the news release.
The Mount Baker Ski Area opens Thursday, Nov. 16. Salas cautioned visitors to be aware of their surroundings and remember that this kind of thing could happen to anyone.
She said both Amancio and Lenz are experienced snowboarders and had some avalanche gear the day they went out.
“We’re just trying to keep positive. People can last a lot longer in those conditions than we think,” Salas said.