Rock slide devastates family

All five people who were killed in a Colorado rock slide and a teenage girl who survived with the help of her father were members of the same family, authorities said Tuesday. The girl was airlifted to a Denver hospital with a broken leg after being dug out by rescuers.

Chaffee County Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Everson

Chaffee County Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Everson

BUENA VISTA, Colo. — All five people who were killed in a Colorado rock slide and a teenage girl who survived with the help of her father were members of the same family, authorities said Tuesday.

The girl was airlifted to a Denver hospital with a broken leg after being dug out by rescuers.

Deputy Nick Tolsma said he saw her hand sticking out from the rocks and helped pull her out. The girl said her father had protected her from the rocks, he said.

“She told me at the last second when the boulders were coming down on top of them that he covered her up and protected her which I believe it saved her life,” Tolsma said.

The names and ages of the family members haven’t been released.

Chaffee County Undersheriff John Spezze said the family was from Buena Vista, Colo.

A search team set out Tuesday to recover the bodies. Four can probably be recovered using hand tools, but special equipment will be needed to dislodge a huge boulder and retrieve the fifth body, said David Noltensmeyer of the North End Search and Rescue team.

He said the team might try moving the boulder with a heavy inflatable bag that firefighters use to lift large vehicles during rescues.

The slide sent 100-ton boulders onto a viewing area overlooking Agnes Vaille falls in Chalk Creek Canyon below Mount Princeton, a 14,197-foot peak in south-central Colorado.

Witnesses said some of the boulders were the size of cars.

Rescuers were unable to recover the bodies Monday because the rocks were dangerously unstable. The safety of the recovery team is still a concern and lookouts will keep a close eye on the slide.

“If anything moves, our people will come out,” he said.

A female hiker who heard the slide ran down the trail and called for help, Spezze said.

The area had a rainy summer and a recent snowfall, said Spezze. It was too soon to know if the weather prompted the slide, which left a football-field-sized gash in the mountainside, he said.

“It was totally unexpected. It caught everybody by surprise,” Spezze said.

The trail is one of the first hikes recommended to people new to the area and is also popular with tourists, said Margaret Dean, a regular hiker who has walked the trail with her 7-year-old grandson.

Dean, a copy assistant at The Mountain Mail newspaper in Salida, said the trail is easily accessible and provides a view of the falls and the Chalk Creek Valley in Collegiate Peaks, which contains mountains over 14,000-feet tall.

Agnes Vaille, the waterfall’s namesake, was a Denver mountaineer who died in 1925 while attempting a difficult winter climb of Longs Peak, which rises to 14,259 feet.

The U.S. Forest Service maintains the trail. Spezze said officials have asked the Forest Service for a permanent closure.

The Forest Service says the trail got medium to heavy usage. The trailhead lies across from Chalk Lake campground and is near the St. Elmo ghost town, a popular stop for tourists in Colorado’s central mountains.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta Health Services declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Revera Aspen Ridge on Feb. 1. (Photo by Advocate staff)
Two COVID deaths linked to Revera seniors residence in Red Deer

35 active COVID cases at seniors residence

Red Deer musician Lorry Boschman has written a song about love in the time of COVID-19. Proceeds from his single, Romance during a Pandemic, will be donated to the local United Way. (Contributed photo).
Local musician records a song about love in the time of COVID-19 — for charity

Lorry Boschman will donate some proceeds to the United Way

Preliminary data shows Alberta’s suicide rate declined in 2020 — but some mental health critics say it’s too early to draw any conclusions since more dire pandemic impacts are only now being felt. (metrocreative stock)
Alberta’s suicide rate seems to have declined in 2020

But some experts say it’s too early to credit the pandemic

The union representing workers at the Olymel meat processing plant in Red Deer confirmed the death of a worker on Wednesday. (Advocate file photo)
Union confirms death of worker from Olymel plant

An investigation by the UFCW 401 local has confirmed another death connected… Continue reading

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre can accommodate up to 20 patients requiring a ventilator, says Alberta Health Services.  File photo by Advocate staff
Opinion: UCP government reneging on Red Deer hospital funding

Another year, another Alberta budget and another blow to central Albertans. Budget… Continue reading

The logo for the CBS Corporation appears above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019. CBS All Access will be renamed Paramount Plus on Thursday, bringing heaps of new streaming programming to its subscribers, unless they're in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Richard Drew
CBS All Access rebrands as Paramount Plus in Canada, but it’s a name change only

CBS All Access rebrands as Paramount Plus in Canada, but it’s a name change only

A copy of the book "And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street," by Dr. Seuss, rests in a chair, in Walpole, Mass., Monday, March 1, 2021. Canadian librarians and educators are reassessing several Dr. Seuss titles that are being pulled from publication because of racist and insensitive imagery. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Steven Senne
Canadian libraries reassess Dr. Seuss books pulled from publication for racist images

Canadian libraries reassess Dr. Seuss books pulled from publication for racist images

Who have provinces pegged to receive COVID-19 vaccines in the coming weeks?

Who have provinces pegged to receive COVID-19 vaccines in the coming weeks?

Major-General Dany Fortin, left, looks on as Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. The Public Health Agency of Canada has set aside up to $5 billion to pay for COVID-19 vaccines. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Public Health Agency of Canada budgets $5B for COVID-19 vaccines, treatments

Public Health Agency of Canada budgets $5B for COVID-19 vaccines, treatments

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Vaccine panel recommends going up to 4 months between doses of COVID-19 shots

Vaccine panel recommends going up to 4 months between doses of COVID-19 shots

The courthouse in Iqaluit, Nunavut, is shown on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. A Nunavut judge has granted a mining company's request for an injunction against hunters who protested at its site for a week last month, halting the mine's operations. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Emma Tranter
Nunavut judge grants injunction against hunters who protested at mine site

Nunavut judge grants injunction against hunters who protested at mine site

A woman walks towards the entrance of the TransAlta headquarters building in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, April 29, 2014. Calgary-based power generator TransAlta Utilities Ltd. says it has set a goal to be carbon neutral by 2050. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal
Alberta utility TransAlta vows to be carbon neutral by 2050 as it notes $167M loss

Alberta utility TransAlta vows to be carbon neutral by 2050 as it notes $167M loss

Most Read