A Memorial Day search fails to turn up three men believed to be lost in Sunday's Colorado mudslide.
Authorities identified the men as road workers from Collbran, Colorado: 46-year-old Wes Hawkins, 53-year-old Clancy Nichols and his son, 24-year-old Danny Nichols. Police say the men were sent to investigate a smaller slide on the mountain before they disappeared. (Via KMGH)
REPORTER: "And somewhere in all this are three men from Collbran. After a smaller slide clogged irrigation ditches, they went to investigate."
SHERIFF: "We believe that a second and major slide occurred there. … It's an understatement to call this massive."
Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey went on to describe the size of the slide that's baffling rescue workers. The mudslide is 2-3 miles long, more than a half mile wide in places, and some estimate parts could be 250 feet thick. The three men were traveling in a vehicle and an ATV when a second mudslide occurred; neither has been located. (Via Mesa County Sheriff's Office)
The sheriff told reporters heavy rainfall in the rural area of Colorado was the likely cause of the slide. Adding to the tragedy, the area itself is still too unstable to conduct a thorough search for the missing men. Hilkey spoke to the search efforts.
"We don't want to create any more of a tragedy than this already is. We hope they may be stranded somewhere in such a way that they've avoided it." (Via Los Angeles Times)
In the wake of the aftermath, many in the media have begun comparing this incident to the Oso mudslide that wiped out a subdivision in Snohomish County, Washington, in March. The slide killed 41 people. KING reports:
"This is direct satellite footage of the Oso slide. It is 1 mile from the top of the slide to when the mud stopped moving. In Colorado, the width of the slide is three times that distance, but it didn't come down as far. But it was incredibly violent."
The Denver Post reports Collbran authorities reached out to the Snohomish County sheriff for advice, and together, they assessed what could be done in the first 12-24 hours.
About 40-50 rescue workers continued to search for the Collbran men at first light Tuesday. They’ll concentrate on the bottom half and sides of the slide, where the mud can reach 20-30 feet deep.