Body of Columbia Falls man missing since February found

Posted at 3:45 PM, May 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-12 17:45:25-04

The body of Jonathan Torgerson of Columbia Falls was found on Saturday at about 11 a.m, according to the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office.

Torgerson was a backcountry skier who reported missing on February 17th.

The Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post on Saturday that his body was found Saturday in an avalanche deposition zone on the north side of Whitefish mountain.

Authorities say it appears he was caught in a small avalanche on February 17. The warming temperatures and snow conditions contributed to the successful recovery.

The Sheriff’s Office says that one of several K-9 teams was instrumental in the recovery mission on Saturday.

The agency noted: "The Sheriff’s Office wishes to thank all of the volunteers who have contributed countless hours in this ongoing search to bring Dr. Torgerson home to his family."

(MARCH 2, 2018) The search efforts near Whitefish Mountain Resort to find missing skier, Dr. Jonathan Torgerson will ramp up again this weekend.

Saturday marks two weeks since the search for the 62-year-old backcountry skier from Columbia Falls began.

Blowing wind and snowfall this week made for challenging conditions but Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry says with warmer temperatures avalanche danger is now a big concern.

He says heading into the weekend they will be consoling the Flathead Avalanche Center to make certain searchers are deployed in areas safely. The area they’re looking in is 350 to 400-acres — very steep and heavily timbered with many deep tree wells.

This week Sheriff Curry says K9’s deployed by North Valley Search and Rescue have scoured the area hoping to pick up a scent of Dr. Torgerson, but haven’t been successful.

He says that over the weekend the ground search from tree-to-tree will continue and searchers will be deployed on snowmobiles and snowshoes to areas not covered as much. 

Sheriff Curry added that they’re using cellphone and GPS data from Dr. Torgerson to help aid the search.

"We , of course,have been working behind the scenes not just in physical searching. Cellphone forensics and of course downloading any GPS that might have been utilized by Dr. Torgerson, just trying to get any historical data that may help us."

Due to the amount of snowfall in the area the search from the air has been suspended. Sheriff Curry says the battery life window for an avalanche transceiver Dr. Torgerson is thought to be wearing, has passed.

Crews from North Valley Search and Rescue, Flathead Valley Search and Rescue are being assisted by Nordic Ski Patrol.

RELATED: Whitefish community strengthens during difficult time