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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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For the week of January 16 - 22, 2002

  News

Olympic torch bearerís past still rankles some


By GREG MOORE
Express Staff Writer

A former Sun Valley resident, who created a stir six years ago when he faked a disappearance and caused an expensive, week-long search, has been chosen to carry the Olympic torch in the relay through Twin Falls on Jan. 26.

Bud Feltman, 62, was born in Idaho and was a member of the first U.S. Olympic luge team in 1964 in Innsbruck, Austria.

However, he is known locally for other reasons.

Feltman ran a company called Sports Vision of Sun Valley, which went bankrupt soon after his staged disappearance on July 11, 1995. According to John Wallace, an investor in the company, Feltman was scheduled to meet with him and other investors the day of his disappearance to explain what had happened to their money.

"We did go to the meeting and we were informed by his attorney that he had disappeared," Wallace said.

The same day, the Blaine County Sheriffís Office was informed by Feltmanís wife, Judy Feltman, that her husband was overdue from a fishing trip. Bud Feltmanís Chevrolet Suburban was found along the Big Wood River just below Magic Reservoir. A search, which eventually involved 265 people, was begun to find him or his body.

Feltman was located a week later in Lake Charles, La.

According to Blaine County Sheriff Walt Femling, Feltman repaid the county $14,000 for the cost of the search. However, the effort and danger required to search the river at high water rankled many involved.

"There were a lot of people who gave of themselves when he wasnít lost," said Ketchum Police Lt. Mike McNeil, who participated in the search.

When Feltman was found in Louisiana, he was driving another Suburban he had reported stolen in Twin Falls in March. In the meantime, he had received $24,244 from Farmers Insurance Group for the car, and $4,764 for personal items allegedly lost with the car. After it became clear the car hadnít been stolen, a friend of Feltmanís bought it back from Farmers.

Despite the existence of a three-inch thick file on Feltman compiled by the Ketchum Police Department, he was never charged with insurance fraud.

Investors in Sports Vision of Sun Valley did not fare as well financially as did Farmers.

"I wish I knew what happened to my investment," said Ketchum resident Alan Pesky. "I think it went to places it wasnít supposed to go."

In a letter to Pesky dated April 17, 1995, Feltman stated, "That so many things could happen which would so dramatically reverse our momentum continues to be a great disappointment to all of us. But to suggest that you were intentionally misled is entirely unfounded."

The Idaho Department of Finance investigated the company, but took no action as a result.

Pesky, however, called Feltmanís selection as a torch bearer "a travesty."

"I have looked upon carrying the Olympic torch as an honor," he said. "To select Bud Feltman as a model for other people is, I think, shameful."

According to a spokesperson for the Olympic Torch Relay Committee, Feltman was chosen as a former Olympian, in a pool separate from that of nominees from the general public.

Feltman now lives in Park City, Utah. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, he works for Marriott selling time-shared condominiums. He did not return a phone call Tuesday from the Mountain Express.

 


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.