By Alan Gionet
DENVER (CBS4)– Searchers are planning another effort Thursday in Clear Creek County for a Denver preschool teacher missing for over a week. Peter McInerney, an experienced backcountry skier was last known to be in the area of Jones Pass Trail, not far from Berthoud Pass.
McInerney was last seen Sunday, Feb. 18. The staff at the Park Hill Children’s Center in Denver became concerned on Feb. 20, when McInerney did not show up for school.
“In his many years at the Children’s Center, Peter has never been so much as late for a day of school,” school leaders wrote in a letter to parents and staff.
They called and checked with his family and his home. Staffers say his car was found at the Jones Pass trailhead near Berthoud Falls on Feb. 20.
A search was launched and Clear Creek Sheriff’s deputies, along with the Alpine Search and Rescue team, scoured the area for two days with no luck.
The search was called off, then someone found McInerney’s backpack and beacon, several miles up the trail from the Jones Pass trailhead.
So the sheriff’s office resumed the search Saturday, but due to strong winds and bitter cold conditions, they had no success. There has been significant snow in the area since he was reported missing.
Clear Creek Undersheriff Bruce Snelling told CBS4, “It’s hard to survive more than a few days” in the winter with cold temperatures and lack of supplies.
But, he notes that McInerney is known as an avid outdoorsman, and “may have as much experience as many on our rescue team.” Another search is planned on Thursday.
The preschool where he works, Park Hill Children’s Center, is trying to keep parents, students and staffers informed.
McInerney, a native of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, has been a teacher there for many years.
The school released a letter to parents and staff which reads, in part, “As you can imagine, this is an extremely delicate situation and we are all processing what this means in our own individual ways. Our plan for dealing with children’s questions on this topic (as they arise) will be short, factual, and we will avoid dishonesty. We encourage you to do the same. While we understand that conversations happen organically and there is no way to script a conversation, especially with young children, our general response will be “Peter is missing. We aren’t sure where he is. This is very sad. We are seeking professional advice on how to proceed with this disheartening and ambiguous situation. We will keep you informed as best practices are suggested.”
The school ends the letter, “Thank you for your support during this extremely difficult time.”