Lost snowmobiler turns up at Paonia lodge

A local man spent a frigid night on Grand Mesa after his snowmobile ran out of gas and he became separated from his friends, prompting extensive search efforts on Friday.

Mark Hotz, 40, managed to walk to Electric Mountain Lodge near Paonia just before 1 p.m. Friday, while staff at the lodge phoned Delta County dispatchers to report the overdue snowmobiler, Mesa County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Heather Benjamin said.

Hotz was described as uninjured and was being debriefed late Friday about the situation.

He had a Carhartt jacket and boots, but no food or water, and otherwise no heavy winter gear for the night spent outdoors, according to Benjamin.

A Grand Valley resident, Hotz was not believed to be an experienced snowmobiler, she said.

Authorities Friday morning had mobilized helicopters from CenturyLink, as well as the High Altitude Army National Guard training center in Eagle County, toward assisting more than 20 Mesa County search and rescue volunteers.

They were dispatched around 7 p.m. Thursday to the Bonham Reservoir area, near the Delta County line, on a report of a lone snowmobiler who didn’t return as planned.

A group of four snowmobilers made a day run Thursday from Bonham Reservoir area to Alexander Lodge, and were returning when the lone rider got lost, authorities said.


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