A day after the search for his missing son was called off at Sugar Bowl Ski Resort, Mike May put on his skis and headed back up the hill.
May and a few family members huddled together Wednesday amid cold temperatures to “celebrate Carson and the place where he loved so much — the mountains and the ski slopes,” Mike May said during an interview Thursday at his Davis home.
Carson May, a 23-year-old Sugar Bowl ski instructor, disappeared Jan. 14. An exhaustive search spanning several days turned up few clues, and Placer County authorities canceled the operation Tuesday because it was unlikely Carson would be found alive.
In the last few days, Sugar Bowl Ski Resort recorded 46 inches of snow and saw blizzard-like inclement weather, according to John Monson, director of sales and marketing at the resort. The area also was subject to avalanches, another factor that hampered the 400-person strong rescue team.
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Mike May, 62, wonders whether better technology could have helped rescuers precisely locate his son. Authorities pinged Carson’s cell phone, but that provided only a general area of where he may have been located. May said the Find My Phone app could have given searchers a GPS coordinate. However, he said, existing privacy laws make it difficult to gain access to that information from the cellular companies unless the app was previously enabled.
May, who was blinded at age 3 from a chemical explosion but regained partial vision in 2000 after a pioneering eye surgery, was listening acutely to his three radios during the search for Carson.
“I could hear every word as they were searching for Carson. I could hear the dogs barking in the background,” May said.
Every moment was a “panicky helpless feeling,” the father said. He said family members clung onto hope that somewhere, somehow Carson was holed up in a cave or otherwise safe.
May, a business executive who markets devices for blind people, has vowed to push for new technology to aid future search and rescue teams, such as drones and satellite receivers. By exhausting all available technology, families will be able gain closure knowing that “at the end of the experience, we applied every tool,” May said.
Skiing has long been a favorite hobby for the family. May holds the world’s speed record for downhill skiing by a blind individual, and he met his ex-wife and Carson’s mother, Jennifer May, while skiing at Kirkwood Mountain Resort.
The family spends every year visiting the Sierra Nevada ski resorts. Carson May learned to ski at age 2 and was always known as a “cautious” skier, his father said.
“Mother nature does bizarre things. We had a lot of snow, so who knows,” May said.