The body of a Columbia Falls doctor who went missing on Big Mountain in February was found in a small avalanche on Saturday.
Jonathan Torgerson, 62, went missing Feb. 17, when he went backcountry skiing near Whitefish Mountain Resort’s Flower Point area. Search and rescue workers scoured the area by foot, ski, snowmobile and helicopter for weeks after his disappearance, going from tree to tree, thinking he may have gone in a tree well.
The weather didn’t help the search either. The week he disappeared, the mountain was pounded with heavy snows.
After a hiatus, the search resumed at the end of April, and came to an end at about 11 a.m. Saturday morning.
In a press release, Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry wrote that “it appears he was caught in a small avalanche on February 17. The warming temperatures and snow conditions contributed to the successful recovery.” He added that a K-9 team “was instrumental in today’s mission.”
Torgerson was a respected and well-liked physician at North Valley Hospital and its clinic in Columbia Falls.
He was working in geriatrics at the North Valley Professional Center in Columbia Falls at the time of his death. He previously worked in the North Valley Hospital emergency department since 1990, where he spent the majority of his career until he shifted to full time geriatrics in 2017. He was on the NVH board of directors from 1996-2006 and was Chief of Staff in 1994-1995
Torgerson’s body was found a couple of hundred yards off Canyon Creek Road in a backcountry area accessible from Whitefish Mountain Resort’s Flower Point area.
“The Sheriff’s Office wishes to thank all of the volunteers who have contributed countless hours in this ongoing search to bring Dr. Torgerson home to his family,” Curry said.
Curry said he hoped the recovery would help the doctor’s family gain some peace and closure. He said he spoke with Torgerson’s wife Saturday.
“She was very appreciative of the continued efforts,” Curry said. “We were really, really happy we could bring him home to the family. The not knowing is what can be very difficult.”
There were more than 20 searchers involved in Saturday’s recovery.
A search dog from Colorado ultimately made the discovery at the bottom of the avalanche path, Curry said.
“He was in an area that had a cursory search previously, but transceivers didn’t get a hit off his beacon,” Curry said.
Curry said it did not appear that Torgerson suffered any traumatic injuries.