A recovery team trekked into the West Basin of Taos Ski Valley on Wednesday (May 27) and recovered a set of human remains believed to be those of John McCoy, a 72-year-old skier who disappeared while skiing alone on Jan. 2.
Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said the team found a ski pass on the remains with McCoy's name on it, but he added that the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator will assess them to confirm the identity.
McCoy's family reported him missing on Jan. 6 after they had not heard from him for several days. Authorities found his vehicle still parked in the resort's main lot, but were unable to find him on the mountain.
Hogrefe said hikers spotted McCoy's remains this month in an out-of-bounds section of the mountain some ways from Lift 2, one of the highest lifts on the mountain. It appeared that McCoy had crashed and broken a leg, leaving him immobile in a section of the mountain where more than one person has ridden out of bounds over the years.
Members of Hogrefe's office and patrollers from the ski valley drove up switchbacks to the lift Wednesday morning and then hiked down to reach the remains, negotiating steep terrain still covered with patches of deep snow in some areas.
The team packaged the remains in a body bag and spent several hours transporting them back down to the ski valley's main lot. From there, Hogrefe transported them to his office, where he met with OMI.
According to a post made to a Notre Dame alumni blog on Jan. 18, McCoy was from Annapolis, Maryland, but also spent many seasons skiing in Taos.
He was a lifelong fan of his alma mater's football team, and returned to the university every year to attend games. After he graduated, he spent two years with the Peace Corps in Lesotho, Africa. When he returned to the States, he earned a law degree from George Washington University, which he put to use with the firm Arent-Fox in Washington, D.C.
McCoy was an experienced outdoorsman all his life, the post continues. He skiied several times in the Alps and the Andes. He was also an avid sailor, hiker and scuba diver.
He is survived by two sisters, two nephews, three great nephews and two great nieces. A memorial service was held for him in February at Saint Anne's Episcopal Church in Annapolis, according to the post.