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Former Sioux City man dies in Colorado avalanche

Former Sioux City man dies in Colorado avalanche

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SIOUX CITY | A former Sioux City man died Friday in a Colorado avalanche while riding a snowbike.

Ron Brabander's death is the first-ever snowbike avalanche in Colorado, and the second-ever in the country, the Denver Post reported, citing avalanche accident reports.

Snowbikes are off-road motorcycles that convert to a ski-like vehicle.

Brabander, 58, of Woodland Park, Colorado, was riding his snowbike alone Friday in Chaffee County, atop Cottonwood Pass at 11,900 feet elevation, when he was buried and killed in an avalanche, according to the Post.

Brabander spent 14 years at Gateway in North Sioux City, where he was  one of the computer maker's experts in engineering, said Keith Thomas, a Brabander friend and former Gateway colleague. Brabander also worked with the largest Gateway monitor supplier, whose team then started Vizio, Thomas said.

After leaving Gateway, Brabander worked for 10 years with Dakota PC Warehouse, said Thomas, a Dakota PC co-founder. At Dakota PC, Brabander started as the monitor expert, but then shifted into TVs and worked on them until he retired and moved to Colorado about 18 months ago, Thomas said.

"He always had a smile on his face, and would help anybody and everybody, at any time," Thomas said in an email Monday. "He was a truly great guy."

Mike Hingst, of Sioux City, worked with Brabander for about a decade in the 1990s and 2000s at Gateway.

"(Brabander) was the epitome of a good, hard worker, a good overall person. He always had an open ear...He always had a smile on his face," Hingst said.

Hingst said Brabander loved motorcycles and cars, and that it was sad to lose him in an accidental death on a ride he no doubt enjoyed.

According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, searchers found Brabander buried in about six feet of snow.

The center reported that at about 11 a.m. Friday "a rider on a motorized snowbike was caught in an avalanche south of Cottonwood Pass. The avalanche released on an east-facing, above-treeline slope."

People have posted several memories of Brabander at the I Survived Working at Gateway public group on Facebook.

Hingst said Brabander's parents are deceased, and a sister lives outside Siouxland.

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