Outdoor Education Provider Issues Facts About Willow Lake Rescue
(Golden, CO) – May 30, 2012 – Outward Bound has been the subject of an incorrect story that broke earlier today about a search and rescue operation occurring at Willow Lake in the Sangre De Cristo Mountains of Colorado following a boating accident on May 25. Several news outlets initially reported incorrectly that the presumed-dead victim of the canoeing accident was an Outward Bound trainee.
While conducting a training exercise on May 25, Colorado Outward Bound School (COBS) staff found a member of the public, Natalie Brechtel, 28, of Santa Barbara, Calif., by the side of Willow Lake and treated/stabilized her for moderate hypothermia. Brechtel reported that she last saw her partner, Jesse Peterson, 27, of Alma, Colo., also a member of the public, at 7:00pm that evening, clinging to a canoe in Willow Lake. The two had been canoeing when the boat flipped. Reportedly, Peterson did not know how to swim and neither Brechtel nor Peterson were wearing personal flotation devices.
The Outward Bound Administrative Incident Commander, who was on call at the Leadville, Colo. base camp, was immediately contacted via satellite phone by the senior Outward Bound staff trainer who was on the scene of the accident and reported the above information about Brechtel and Peterson. The Incident Commander then contacted the Saguache County Sheriff, who stated that Search and Rescue (SAR) would be sent out the following morning. Outward Bound staff assumed responsibility for the continued well-being of Brechtel during the night. Outward Bound staff also searched the perimeter of the lake for Peterson from 8:00pm to 8:30pm that evening, as well as from 6:30am to 7:30am the following morning, but found nothing.
Outward Bound staff continued to offer assistance to SAR when their quick response team arrived on foot at the scene later on the morning of May 26. The staff also offered continued support in the event that the follow-up SAR team, arriving by horseback, needed additional help portaging equipment at several creek crossings.
“Outward Bound is deeply saddened by this tragic accident that we encountered and for the loss of Jesse Peterson. We remain concerned for the well-being of Natalie Brechtel,” said Peter A. O’Neil, Executive Director of Colorado Outward Bound School. “Outward Bound’s instructional staff receive significant training and certification in wilderness emergency medicine and crisis response and were able to address the situation accordingly. The actions of our instructors exhibit one of the founding principles of Outward Bound: being of service to others.”
About Outward Bound As the pioneer in outdoor education for the last 50 years, Outward Bound is the premier provider of experience-based outdoor leadership programs, offering over 1,000 courses throughout the year and across the U.S. for youth and adults. Outward Bound has taken over one million people of all ages on adventures that inspire character development, self-discovery, leadership skills and service ethic. Today, Outward Bound serves 70,000 students and instructors annually, many of whom receive scholarship support. Outward Bound courses change lives, giving students the tools to see further, climb higher and know their way. Students embark on trips such as backpacking, mountaineering, kayaking, sailing, canyoneering, canoeing, dog sledding, rafting, rock climbing and snow boarding, as well as urban expeditions in their community, and take home from these expeditions true leadership skills and the courage to follow their own path. For more information visit www.outwardbound.org.
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