By JOSHUA WOLFSON
and THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
An 18-year-old Valley Springs snowboarder missing for almost a week was found dead yesterday in a remote mountain area of Calaveras County.
Ryan Joseph Rush was found in the Mokelumne Wilderness by a search-and-rescue team that had been airlifted to the region, said a representative from the Alpine County Sheriff's Department.
Rush had last been seen Jan. 5 at the Bear Valley Ski Area, where he was snowboarding.
Authorities say that a friend first claimed to have given Rush a ride home, but later acknowledged that he had not done so and that Rush had last been seen at the ski area.
Late Saturday afternoon, searchers found tracks leading into a remote section of the Mokelumne Wilderness.
But it was dark, so they were unable to complete the search until yesterday.
Also yesterday, four Central Valley teenagers were reported missing at Dodge Ridge Ski Area in neighboring Tuolumne County. This is the third time in the past month that people have been reported missing in the area.
Among the missing are two Escalon boys, ages 16 and 17, a 16-year-old Oakdale boy and Cody William Lane, 18, also of Oakdale.
Members of the Dodge Ridge Ski Patrol began a search for the teens about 4:45 p.m. yesterday, using snowcats and snowmobiles, said Karrie Mathson, marketing and sales director at Dodge Ridge. By 6 p.m., the Tuolumne County Search and Rescue Team had taken up the search as well.
This morning, rescuers are looking for signs of the missing snowboarders in the back country area around Dodge Ridge, Mathson said.
Rescuers will also take to the air in a helicopter in an effort to find the teens.
With partly cloudy skies and relatively warm temperatures, conditions are good for a rescue, Mathson said.
"We are confident they are going to be found," she said.
In both of the recent rescue efforts at Dodge Ridge, the snowboarders were eventually found alive.