The remains of a missing father and son from St. Louis Park apparently have been recovered in the Rockies — though positive confirmation is pending, Colorado authorities said late Thursday.
Damian McManus, 51, and his son Evan McManus, 18, went missing in April, and early indications are the two were found by hikers on Thursday.
But the Clear Creek County coroner has yet to identify the remains officially and determine how they died, said Capt. Bruce Snelling of the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office.
The father and son had gone to Colorado on a spring-break trip and were last heard from on April 2, heading out to climb. They were feared lost in a snowstorm.
Hikers called 911 after finding the bodies in the area of Mount Evans just before 10 a.m. Thursday, the Sheriff’s Office said.
The bodies were recovered by Alpine and Rocky Mountain Rescue, which has teams of highly trained, nonpaid rescue mountaineers, and then turned over to the coroner’s office.
Snelling said that on Friday morning, investigators would be going through items gathered at the scene, which may include wallets, identification, phones and other belongings.
The 14,265-foot-tall mountain, often compared to Pikes Peak, is in the Front Range region of the Rocky Mountains and dominates Denver’s metro skyline.
‘Team McManus’ searched
Since the McManuses vanished, teams of mountaineers, volunteers, relatives and friends have searched the area for thousands of hours, cumulatively. They were dubbed “Team McManus.”
A small team of Minnesota firefighters joined in that search earlier this week.
The father-and-son trip to Colorado was a spur-of-the-moment thing. They were last heard from when Evan McManus sent a message to his girlfriend on April 2, saying he and his dad were heading out to climb. It was a few days before anyone realized they were missing.
Damian’s wife, Katherine McManus, and Evan’s twin sister, Lauren, had gone to Mexico on their own spring-break trip during that time, and at first they thought bad phone reception was preventing them from getting through.
But once mother and daughter flew back from Mexico, they realized the men’s cellphones were dead.
The men were supposed to be home that Saturday. They were reported missing on Sunday.
A fight against the weather
Their SUV was found near Echo Lake, a spot popular for day hikes, about two hours west of Denver. Searchers had a rough idea of where to search based on a ping from one of the men’s phones at 7 p.m. that Wednesday night. Snow had covered the men’s tracks by then.
Deep snow and bitter temperatures also hampered searches, with searchers using snowshoes, skis, snowmobiles, helicopters and dogs.
It snowed nearly every day after the two were last heard from, for more than a week. Temperatures sank well below zero every night. And the winds whipped at 20 to 40 mph.
Officials issued statements saying that the two could not have survived for more than a week in the frigid wilderness, and officials searches were called off. Unofficial searches kept on with volunteers hoping to bring the men’s bodies home.
A fund has been established to help the family. Donations can be sent to Citizens Independent Bank, c/o McManus Family Fund, 5000 W. 36th St., St. Louis Park, MN 55416