Missing Skier Found and Reunited with Family

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Mon, April 8 2013 at 7:32 PM, Updated: Mon, April 8 2013 at 8:08 PM

Frigid temperatures and blowing snow made for a race against the clock for search and rescue crews looking for a missing skier on Mt. Ashland.

But nearly 20-hours after 52-year-old Carol Koon was reported missing, she was found and reunited with her family around noon on Monday.

It was the moment friends and family of a missing skier collectively breathed a sigh of relief.

"Pretty magical moment I guess you could say," said Don Libby, Koon's son-in-law.

Libby said he heard about his missing mother-in-law Sunday evening and he spent the night in the lodge.

"The weather last night was so bad. It was practically blizzarding and we just knew we couldn't go out there," said Libby who expressed how helpless he felt as family and friends waited for word on Koon's whereabouts.

Blustering wind and snow Sunday night made it difficult for search crews to locate Koon who was reported missing around 5pm Sunday.

"The weather just seemed like it was getting worse and worse throughout the night. It wouldn't let up," said Libby.

However, officials knew she was alive.

"She made a call between 10-11 to her husband so we knew she was alive," said Quinnan Picton, Carol Koon's niece.

That call was made Monday morning.

Sheriff's deputies said her phone had died Sunday night and she could not call 911, but somehow she got through to her husband.

Libby said church members had a prayer chain going throughout the night.

Family members said they had faith Carol could survive the elements.

"She hikes in and out of the woods daily, like six miles. So we knew if anybody could do this she would be the one to do it. It's a blessing," Libby said.

Officials said Carol Koon was last seen by family members around 2:30 Sunday afternoon when she left the ski lodge to go ski the bowl area on Mt. Ashland. When she did not meet her family, they became worried and reported her as a missing person around 5pm. 

According to officials at the Jackson County Sheriff's Office, Koon spent the night huddled near a horse corral and a large cedar tree.

Rescuers in a helicopter spotted her about 8-miles away from the ski area on the south side of the mountain.

Libby said the experience has increased his faith base.

"God was there. God was with her."

According to officials, Koon was able to stay warm with her ski clothes. Their advice: If anyone gets lost in the mountains, stay put and wait for rescue crews.

Agencies involved in the search and rescue effort included the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, CORSAR – including Siskiyou, Klamath, Douglas, Lane, Deschutes, and Josephine counties, Ashland Ski Patrol, Rogue Valley Snowmobile Club, Civil Air Patrol, Brim Aviation, Oregon National Guard, Mt. Ashland Ski Area, and Ashland Fire and Rescue.

Family members said they were thankful to all the agencies that helped find Carol Koon.

About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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