Tonight’s flight by an aircraft with advanced surveillance equipment may be the last best hope of finding a missing Bear Valley skier.
As of Monday afternoon, Alpine County searchers have located no sign of Thomas Mullarkey, who was reported missing on March 14 after he failed to return home.
“No evidence which would help search and rescue personnel locate Mr. Mullarkey has been found,” officials said Monday. “The Alpine county Sheriff’s Office is continuing to search for Mr. Mullarkey with the assistance of the Bear Valley Resort ski patrol and a military Black Hawk Helicopter.”
If some indication of Mullarkey’s whereabouts hasn’t been found by the end of Monday’s efforts, searchers will scale back resources. Alpine County Sheriff’s deputies will keep searching areas surrounding the resort as safer conditions return.
Alpine County Undersheriff Spencer Case said search & rescue efforts have focused on Bear Valley Resort because there was no evidence Mullarkey skied out of bounds, and the extreme avalanche danger in the surrounding wilderness.
“Search and Rescue personnel have conducted a thorough and methodical search operation during periods of heavy snowfall, white-out conditions, and single-digit temperatures,” Case said.
Sunday was the first day a California Highway Patrol helicopter could fly over the surrounding area.
Alpine is asking the California National Guard to send a helicopter.
They are also seeking a fixed-wing drone equipped with an advanced surveillance package and a fixed-wing aircraft with sensitive infrared capabilities for Monday night.
Mullarkey, 65, was reported missing on Wednesday night after he failed to return to the couple’s Arnold, Calif., cabin.
Mullarkey’s vehicle was located at Bear Valley Mountain Resort not long after his wife made the 11:30 p.m. report, according to Alpine County Undersheriff Spencer Case.
Because of extreme avalanche danger, searchers could not begin work until day broke on Thursday.
Members of the Calaveras County Search and Rescue, Alpine County Search and Rescue, resort ski patrol, and Sheriff’s Office personnel resumed the search at first light on Thursday.
But bad weather grounded any help from the air through Saturday as more than 3 feet of snow fell in the resort.
Mullarkey is described as 5-feet, 8 inches tall, weighing 150 pounds with gray hair and blue eyes.
“Mr. Mullarkey is known to be an advanced skier and in good health,” Case said. “He is believed to be wearing the same ski suit as depicted in his photo.
Anyone with information is asked to call Case at 530-694-2231, ext. 357.