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Body of missing skier Carson May recovered at Sugar Bowl resort

The body of ski instructor Carson May, 23, was found by search-and-rescue teams at Sugar Bowl Ski Resort on Monday, February 29, 2016.
The body of ski instructor Carson May, 23, was found by search-and-rescue teams at Sugar Bowl Ski Resort on Monday, February 29, 2016. Placer County Sheriff's Office

The body of 23-year-old ski instructor Carson May was located Monday afternoon by search and rescue teams more than six weeks after he went missing at Sugar Bowl Ski Resort.

The Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue team, along with El Dorado County Search and Rescue dog teams, were training at the resort. The search dogs were taken to the area where May’s cellphone last “pinged” in January. His body was found under 5 feet of snow, according to the Placer County Sheriff’s Office.

May, a Davis resident, was last seen Jan. 14. Despite an intensive five-day search, searchers were unable to locate him at the time, and the effort was called off when weather conditions grew severe.

Sugar Bowl’s chief executive officer, Greg Dallas, said the discovery brought a feeling of sad resolution to May’s family and Sugar Bowl employees.

“It brings closure to the family, first and foremost,” he said. “Carson was one of ours, so it brings closure for us, too.”

Considering that May was found under a significant amount of snow, after weeks of warm weather since his disappearance, he likely perished in an avalanche, Dallas said. His body was found on the back side of Mount Judah, about a quarter-mile from the resort’s boundaries.

May’s father, Mike May, said he is glad his son was found, but the discovery did not bring relief.

“There’s no such thing as closure when you lose your son,” he said. “It’s an open wound that will stay that way.”

Carson May was an instructor with Sugar Bowl’s Mountain Sports Learning Center ski school, providing lessons to customers of varying skill levels.

He was last seen by his brother when they were skiing the afternoon of Jan. 14. Searchers were given an idea of his location by his brother, who said May was headed to his locker and likely took a backcountry route to get there. The signal from May’s phone also indicated the backcountry route.

Placer County Sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Hunt, who oversaw the January search for May, said searchers last month were hampered by high avalanche danger. Although considerable snowmelt has since occurred, Hunt said searchers would not have located the body Monday without the aid of search dogs. He said the discovery was made about 2 p.m.

“Our condolences go out to the family and to all the volunteers that participated in the search,” Hunt said.

Mike May said rescue workers did everything they knew to help find Carson, but he believes there are better methods for finding people in snow. Mike May said he has been researching different technology, some of which is used by law enforcement, and wants to find ways of applying them to avalanche rescue.

A Davis resident, Mike May set a speed record for a blind downhill skier and was able to regain sight later through a pioneering surgery.

Since his son’s disappearance, May also created a website, http://www.carsonmay.org/, “Celebrating the life of Carson May.”

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy

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