Flash flood kills Teller County man

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A Teller county man has been identified as the victim of Friday evening’s flood in the lower Ute Pass area on U.S. Highway 24.

“The victim who died along Highway 24 near mile marker 297 during the flash flood on August 9, 2013 has been identified as 53-year-old John Collins of Teller County. Mr. Collins’ body was recovered from a large amount of debris which covered the westbound lanes of Highway 24. His vehicle was in the same general area but further west on Highway 24; it is unknown if Mr. Collins exited his vehicle by choice or if the rapidly rushing water and debris forced him from his vehicle,” according to a release from El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.

“According to the El Paso County Coroner’s Office, the cause of Mr. Collins’ death is believed to be drowning,” the release said.

“The Sheriff’s Office extends its heartfelt condolences to the family and friends Mr. Collins leaves behind. The Collins family has asked members of the media to respect their privacy during this trying time.”

“The body was not inside a vehicle and much of the body was buried beneath significant amounts of debris on the westbound lanes of Highway 24,” said an earlier release from El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.

Nearly 1.5 inches of rain fell in 30 minutes on Friday night in an area devastated by a wildfire last year, causing a creek to overflow its banks and cascade across a state highway and into the town of Manitou Springs, about 6.5 miles west of Colorado Springs.

Manitou Springs Police Chief Joe Ribeiro told a news conference on Saturday that one of three people reported missing earlier in the day had been located.

Later on Sunday according to Manitou Springs Police Chief Joe Ribeiro, “The City of Manitou Springs is pleased to share information that another of our missing persons has been accounted for. Juston Travis contacted his family who in turn notified the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office just after 11:30 a.m. that Juston is safe.”

“Manitou Springs is thankful for the outpouring of support that we have received surrounding this event. Over 300 volunteers from all around the region checked in with our coordinators today. They helped businesses and residents clean up and remove debris from their properties,” Ribeiro said.

Crews removed more than 2000 cubic yards of material from the inundation area thus far. Clean up work is expected to continue through Friday afternoon. Despite working in very dangerous conditions, there have been no injuries to emergency responders.

“We would like to remind everyone to exercise caution in areas where equipment is operating. Please maintain a safe distance and be sure that the operator can see you if you need to pass,” Ribeiro cautioned.

On Saturday, about 40 vehicles swept away in the torrent had been towed out of the debris, while six buildings had been deemed unsafe to enter and another 11 structures sustained limited damage from the flood and mud flow.

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